Wild & Scenic Mokelumne Update

Photo of river in fall
N. Fork Mokelumne Devil's Nose reach

Answers to Questions About Wild and Scenic Designation

Water supply
Private land
Current land uses
Flows and hydroelectric generation
Fire prevention and suppression

Water supply use of the Mokelumne would continue

  • The Mokelumne supplies drinking water for Amador County and the East Bay and irrigation in the Woodbridge area.
  • The designation would not interfere with the use of the river for drinking water or existing water rights.
  • Amador County can double its existing population using its current water supply. In 1995, FERC rejected a proposal to build a new water supply dam on the North Fork of the Mokelumne as infeasible and unnecessary.
  • Should Amador County ever need additional water, a better and less expensive option would be 1) To develop a comprehensive efficiency and conservation program, 2) To develop wastewater recycling, and then 3) To secure consumptive rights to water from existing PG&E reservoirs. Calaveras County has more than enough water to meet its future needs.
  • No water agency has a plan in place to dam or divert the affected river reaches.

Protects private property rights

  • Does not give the state government regulatory authority over private land. County governments retain control over local land use and zoning.
  • The greatest eminent domain threat to local landowners along the Mokelumne is the threat of an outside water agency or city building a dam and reservoir on the eligible river segments. Water agencies have used eminent domain for local water projects as recently as 2006.

Current uses of land along the river would continue

  • The eligibility determinations considered current and planned land uses, including agricultural uses such as farming and grazing.
  • Current land uses, public and private, alongside the river will continue after designation.
  • The goal of the Wild and Scenic Rivers designation is not to return the river to an original pristine and untouched condition, but rather to protect the river.
  • Private landowners can continue to use their land as they do today.
  • Each wild and scenic river is protected because it has special “extraordinary values.” The Mokelumne has special water quality, cultural and historical, scenic, and fishery values.

Flow requirements and hydroelectric generation would continue

  • The designation would have no effect on continued operation of PG&E’s Mokelumne River Project, which provides power for 200,000 homes.
  • Flows in the Mokelumne are governed by the 30-year license for the PG&E project (developed through a precedent setting, award-winning collaborative settlement process), agreements between PG&E and East Bay MUD, fish flow requirements from EBMUD’s Pardee Dam downstream, and “the Lodi Decrees,” which requires a certain amount of water to be delivered below Pardee every month.
  • Any future dam on the river segment would interfere with operation of the existing hydroelectric and water projects and the Lodi Decrees.

Fire prevention and suppression would continue

  • Wild and Scenic River designation would not affect management of the river corridor for fire prevention or fire suppression.

Alder photo
Alder on N. Fork Mokelumne
THE FOOTHILL CONSERVANCY  |  35 Court Street, Suite 1   Jackson, CA  95642  |  209-223-3508