Water Supply

Ensuring enough water for healthy rivers and healthy communities

Barrier Removals in California

In California, at least 80% of the historic spawning and rearing habitat historically available to salmon and steelhead has been blocked by barriers. Our California program focuses on removing obsolete dams and other barriers to provide fish migration and restore more natural river conditions

Bay-Delta Conservation Plan

American Rivers is working to integrate sustainable flood management strategies into the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan to protect Californians, restore native habitat, and enhance the reliability of upstream reservoirs.

Bear Valley Meadow Restoration Project

Restoring cultural and ecological integrity to Bear Valley Meadow while integrating climate change predictions into the restoration design

Broad River, SC: Restoring Flows, Fish and Flowers

American Rivers work in Columbia, SC to improve flows in the Broad River.

Cheoah River Flows Again

Restoring natural flow patterns to this stretch of the Cheoah river, has already improved its diverse native aquatic life, helping species like the endangered Appalachian Elktoe mussel to make a comeback. The new flows also allow for improved fishing and world-class whitewater boating.

Colorado River Basin – Protecting the Flows

Until 1998, the Colorado River stretched all the way from its source in the Rockies to Sea of Cortez. Now, it dries up in the Sonoran Desert miles before it reaches the sea. The Colorado River is the lifeline of the west, fueling economies in seven states where people use the river's water for their material sustenance; millions more use the river itself for recreation.

Colorado River Basin Study Overview

In December 2012, the Bureau of Reclamation released the Colorado River Basin Study, a comprehensive look at projected water shortages and outdated water management in a basin that the American west has drawn heavily on for decades.

Connecting Water Conservation Efforts and Instream Flow Protections in the Colorado River Basin

American Rivers is partnering with the Alliance for Water Efficiency and the Environmental Law Institute on a one-year project exploring the links between water efficiency and instream flows in the Colorado River basin.

Dam Alternatives

Flows in the Southeast

American Rivers is working in targeted states on water supply legislation that will protect the drinking water supply of our communities and the rivers that provide recreational, economic, and quality of life benefits in the face of climate change and population growth.

We are focusing our current efforts in North and South Carolina.

Funding Green Infrastructure Solutions

American Rivers helped secure important  water infrastructure funding for green infrastructure and water efficiency as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Benefits from these projects have included clean water, reduced flooding and energy use, and cooler temperatures.

Grazing Benefits on Restored Meadows

We are exploring how meadow restoration directly impacts private landowners, particularly ranchers, and where meadow restoration on private land can yield multiple economic and conservation benefits.

Hope Valley Restoration Project: A Collaborative Effort

The West Fork of the Carson River meanders down the Sierra through Hope Valley, a highly visible meadow American Rivers is working to restore with our project partners.

How Sustainable Water Strategies Prepare Communities for a Changing Climate

Clean water is essential to our health, our communities, and our lives.  Yet our water infrastructure ‰– drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems, dams and levees – grave; is seriously outdated.  In addition, we have degraded much of our essential natural infrastructure – forests, streams, wetlands, and floodplains. Global warming will worsen the situation, as rising temperatures, increased water demands, extended droughts, and intense storms strain our water supplies, flood our communities and pollute our waterways.

Innovative Water Management in the Northwest

The Northwest‰'s magnificent rivers are the lifeblood of natural ecosystems and human communities. We cannot take our rivers and fresh water for granted. Climate change, population growth, and the increasing value of water as a marketable commodity have led to calls for new water supply reservoirs and more water withdrawals from rivers, both of which can devastate river ecosystems.

Meadow Restoration Publications

Mountain Meadow Restoration

Meadows are critical to the larger watershed because of their unique hydrologic and ecological functions. They store spring floodwaters and release cool flows in late summer; they filter out sediment and pollutants, produce high-quality forage and provide habitat for rare and threatened species. American Rivers is currently working on the critical needs of our Sierra Meadows through several different projects.

Oregon and California (“O&C”) Lands

The future of 2.6 million acres of high value public forest lands is at risk. Managed mainly by the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon known as Oregon and California (“O&C”) lands, these forests are home to perhaps the highest concentrations of pristine wild rivers in the United States. Watersheds such as the Rogue, Illinois, Umpqua, and McKenzie support abundant fish and wildlife, including elk, black-tail deer, back bear and the healthiest wild salmon and steelhead runs south of Canada.

Protecting California’s Flowing Rivers

Protecting Flow with the Clean Water Act

Explicit standards recognizing water flow as essential to supporting existing and classified designated uses are crucial to meeting the goals of the Clean Water Act. While water flows are implicitly protected, in practice some State agencies charged with implementing the Clean Water Act focus on the chemical component of the water quality and provide only cursory review of how their decisions will affect physical and biological integrity.

Protecting the Little River, NC: Sustainable Water Supply vs. New Reservoir

Wake County and the City of Raleigh have proposed a new reservoir on the Little River.

Restoring Savannah River Shoals: Two States, a Canal and a Redhorse

American Rivers is working to improve the health of the Savannah River‰'s Augusta Shoals. We successfully negotiated a new agreement with the City of Augusta, Georgia and the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League (SCCCL) to improve natural water flows from upstream dams.

Restoring the Health of Georgia’s Flint River

Georgia's Flint River is one of only 40 rivers left in the United States that flow for more than 200 miles undammed, and American Rivers intends to keep the Flint that way. Rising from humble origins just south of Atlanta - the river's headwater streams actually flow out of pipes buried beneath the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International - the Flint quickly becomes a water supply source for communities in the southern part of the Atlanta metropolitan area and downstream throughout west-central Georgia.

River Friendly Agriculture in the San Gregorio Watershed

Creating a win-win situation for rivers and agriculture in California's San Gregorio watershed.

Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta

American Rivers is working to protect and restore the Delta for fish, birds, and people, and to provide sufficient water supply for the people of California through habitat restoration, flood management improvements, among other changes in operation.

Sierra Water Trust

The Sierra Water Trust project seeks to improve water quality and increase aquatic function and biodiversity in the Sierra Nevada Region through building capacity to use water rights acquisition as a tool for stream restoration, to examine watershed problems in a broader context and to use science to monitor and manage water availability and use in Sierra streams.

The Clean Water Act: Flow Standards

The water quality components of the Clean Water Act are aimed at protecting the full scope of benefits that clean and abundant water provide to society at large. The parameters for success of this goal are water quality standards that protect existing and classified designated uses.

The Permitting Process for Water Supply Reservoirs

The construction of water supply reservoir projects requires a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit for "the discharge of the dredged or fill material in waters of the U.S.‰" resulting from building the dam and control structures.

Upper Flint River Working Group

A key element of our project in the upper Flint is to help convene an Upper Flint River Working Group‰ÛÓa group of diverse stakeholders coming together with the common goal of restoring healthy flows in the upper Flint. Although the Flint has suffered in recent years from declining low flows, collaborative work on finding solutions can restore the river to health.

Water Efficiency Guidelines for Water Supply Projects in the Southeast

Given that water efficiency is often the least damaging, cost-effective water supply option, US EPA Region 4, developed guidelines to assist communities seeking new water supplies to better understand the water efficiency options that they need to consider prior to applying for a permit to construct a water supply reservoir.

Water Efficiency in North Carolina

American Rivers is working in North Carolina to implement the recommended policies in the Hidden Reservoir report to improve water efficiency.

Water Efficiency in the Southeast

Water Efficiency in the Southeast Local governments are uniquely positioned to manage municipal water use. American Rivers has been working with communities across the Southeast to adopt policies that increase water efficiency and decrease water waste.

Weathering Change: Policy Reforms that Cost Less and Make Communities Safer

Many federal policies still encourage the same backward-looking water management approaches that didn‰'t work in the past and are even less suited to the future. This report shared 10 reforms that showcase the best ways we can change federal policies and embrace a forward-looking approach to water management.

Yakima Basin Conservation Campaign

American Rivers is working with the Yakama Indian Nation and conservation partners at the National Wildlife Federation, The Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited, and others to negotiate a comprehensive package of large scale fish passage, habitat restoration and protection, and water management improvements to restore abundant Yakima River salmon and steelhead in a way that earns the lasting support of the Yakama Nation, local farmers, and local communities.