Ensuring enough water for healthy rivers and healthy communities
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
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.
American Rivers work in Columbia, SC to improve flows in the Broad River.
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.
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.
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Bureau of Reclamation released the Colorado River Basin Study, a comprehensive look at projected water shortages and outdated water management in a basin that the American west has drawn heavily on for decades.
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.
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.
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.
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 – 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.
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.
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.
Wake County and the City of Raleigh have proposed a new reservoir on the Little River.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.