Category Archives: Boating

Lower American River contains unsafe levels of E. coli. Are homeless camps to blame?

Levels of E. coli bacteria found in the lower American River exceed the federal threshold for safe recreational use, in part due to human waste from homeless camps, state regulators say.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has proposed adding the bacteria to a list of pollutants that make the lower American River a federally designated impaired water body. A state board is expected to sign off on the decision later this year and ask for final approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

E. coli can sicken and even kill people who swim in or drink contaminated water. State regulators say they’re not aware of anyone who has been sickened by E. coli in the the lower American River, but nearly a decade of test data indicate the risk of exposure.

“It should give people some discomfort about using the water – it’s not good,” said Ron Stork of Friends of the River.

A report summarizing test results from 2007 to 2014 found average levels of E. coli at three sites that were higher than the EPA standard, “beyond which the water body is not recommended for recreation.” The three sites are in the westernmost section of the American River Parkway, near downtown Sacramento, where the highest concentration of homeless camps are set up.

Seventeen of the 25 test sites had at least one recording in excess of the federal threshold, according to the “Safe-to-Swim Assessment.”

Thousands of people use the lower American River each year, from the boaters who launch at Discovery Park, to the swimmers who enjoy the beach at Sutter’s Landing Regional Park, to the triathletes who participate in Eppie’s Great Race.

“My concern is that it could make me sick,” said Alex McDonald, who was sitting in the water with his wife at Sutter’s Landing last week. “I would like to know more.”

More at SacBee.com >>>

Supervisors OK effort to clean up American River Parkway’s homeless camps

Sacramento County supervisors on Wednesday approved a $5 million plan to beef up patrols along the American River Parkway and clean up its homeless encampments.

The 3-2 vote came after dozens of residents packed the supervisors’ chambers to support or denounce the proposal to add park rangers, maintenance staff and sheriff’s employees to the 23-mile “jewel of Sacramento” and adjacent neighborhoods.

Some speakers recounted bad interactions with homeless people. Others expressed compassion for the homeless but said they wanted a clean, safe parkway. Still others denounced the proposal as “criminalizing the homeless.”

Supervisors Phil Serna, Don Nottoli and Patrick Kennedy voted for the measure. Supervisors Susan Peters and Sue Frost voted against it, citing concerns about funding.

Kennedy said the issue is “a tale of two tragedies” – homelessness and the condition of the parkway. “I think (the plan) is a little heavy on the law enforcement side, and I fear it will just move people around,” Kennedy said. “But we have to try something … It’s devastating. We just can’t let (the parkway) continue to deteriorate.”

Aimee Rutledge, head of the Sacramento Valley Conservancy, said the conservancy’s property, Camp Pollock, is at “ground zero” in the lower reaches of the river with a clear view of the degradation of a precious natural resource. “To abandon (the parkway) would be to abandon the best part of Sacramento,” she said.

Last month, supervisors asked staff to find ways to fund additional employees for animal control, waste collection and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Homeless Outreach Team.

Staff members found several sources of funding but not enough to cover the full costs of the program. Staff laid out options costing $3 million, $4 million and $5 million, which had $1.4 million, $2.9 million and $3.8 million funding gaps. Going forward, the funding gaps increase to $1.8 million, $3.2 million and $3.9 million for consecutive budget years, they said.

“Where is the money going to come from?” Peters asked Wednesday.

County Executive Nav Gill said there’s a $3.4 million placeholder in the budget that will come before the board next month and could be used to fund the parkway plan.

Serna launched the parkway debate in June when he requested between $3 million and $5 million to address the impacts of homeless campers.

Other supervisors countered that campers would simply move into the surrounding neighborhoods when rousted. As a compromise, the board asked staff to come up with options to also clean up unincorporated areas of the county adjacent to the parkway.

Karen Humphrey, former mayor of Fresno, told supervisors the plan will “just move the problem around and waste precious resources.” She said she helped create the San Joaquin River Parkway, modeled on Sacramento’s parkway, so she understands its importance. But there isn’t enough capacity to shelter all of the people living in the brush, she said.

Earlier this year, supervisors voted to dedicate $6.2 million to a slew of new homeless initiatives on top of the county’s roughly $40 million in annual spending for homeless services.

The county will build a 75-bed shelter aimed at moving chronically homeless people off the streets. It’s scheduled to open in early 2018, and the county estimates it could serve 300 people annually. The money will also pay for a rehousing program, transitional housing and case workers.

More at SacBee.com >>>

Alleged Gunman Leads Rangers On Slow-Speed Pursuit In Kayak

A fisherman is facing serious charges after allegedly putting down his rod and pulling out a gun.

Park rangers arrested John Guess for shooting at a person along the American River. Ranger Elmer Marzan responded to the reports of shots fired, after an argument turned violent.

Then came the search for the gunman.

“We were dealing with our suspect, in this case who was floating down river in a kayak,” Ranger Marzan said.

The gunman in his getaway kayak led rangers on a slow speed pursuit.

“How fast can you go in a kayak?” CBS13’s Steve Large asked kayaker Randy Riley. “Not very fast, not very fast,” Riley said.

More at CBSLocal.com >>>

Folsom Lake Filled With Debris, Boating Difficult For Visitors

It was a Fourth of July celebration and the party going was on at Folsom Lake.

“Happy 4th of July!”

So much so the lake reached maximum capacity.

“We got turned around. That’s the first time that that’s ever happened and we were shocked,” said Krista Bernasconi of Roseville.

But despite the crowds of people, logs were also jamming up the fun.

“We had to pile all those logs up just so we could get through the water,” said Myrna Kitchens of Roseville.

From the shore to the water though, it was a slightly different story.

“It’s a little bit choppy. There’s a lot of boats out here, but it’s great,” said Mike Funk.

Plus, there was a lot less debris.

More at CBSLocal.com >>>

Locals try to seek safe spots on the American River

As Fourth of July approaches, people are heading to the area’s waterways to stay cool, but some are avoiding the most dangerous spots on the American River.

On Sunday, many people were cooling off at Lake Natoma – a calmer portion of the river near Folsom.

“As you can see here, they have the swimming holes for the children and that’s where it’s all calm,” said Shane Nischke. “And you can see where everybody else is kayaking, it’s great out there — there’s nothing roaring through here.”

The Nischke family came all the way from Auburn to enjoy this spot, even though there are plenty of rivers where they’re from.

“It’s just dangerous,” he said, referring to those rivers. “For the last three years, this is the place I come with my children because it’s the safest.”

Nischke is familiar with the dangers of the American River because he lost a close friend in a drowning incident on the river.

“He was out on a trail and then he fell in right in the rapids and the undertow took him and wrapped him up around a log,” he said. “He couldn’t get out, and therefore, his life was ended that day.”

More at ABC10.com >>>

California Heat Wave Sending Record Snow Melt Surging Into Rivers

The heat wave is melting snow in the Sierra, which is bringing freezing cold water into the valley’s lakes, streams and rivers.

The effects of the snowmelt can also be deadly and proved so on Tuesday.

“With this fast moving water it does not take long for someone to get in trouble,” said State Parks Ranger Scott Liske.

Liske says a group of friends from Sacramento was swimming in the main channel of the North Fork when one of them drowned.

“He went downstream, and his friends ran after him, telling him to grab o to something. He did go under the surface and did not come back up,” Liske said.

Liske couldn’t identify the victim but says he was 20-years old. The heavy flows are also a concern at the Yuba River in Nevada County.

The heavy flows are also a concern at the Yuba River in Nevada County.

“One of the things we are concerned about is not just the issues in the upper elevations; as the snow starts to melt it finds its way down to the lower elevations,” said Nevada County Spokesman Joshua Pack.

Pack says he often sees people jumping into the river like it’s a swimming pool.

“It was over 100 degrees yesterday, definitely not hanging out at my place,” said Brian, who came to swim in the river to cool off.

He says he knows what to look out for, so he doesn’t end up under water.

“Keeping close to the edge, definitely not going into the white part, try not to be swept away too quickly,” Brian added.

More at CBSLocal.com >>>

Folsom Lake nears max capacity

After a record season of rainfall and an abundant snowpack thereafter, Folsom Lake is rapidly reaping the benefits. As of press time Tuesday, the lake that looked like a mere puddle just months ago, had reached its highest level of the year, nearing its capacity by single digits.

As of  press time on Tuesday, Folsom Lake’s capacity had reached 943,677 acre feet, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The most recent readings show the reservoir just three percent from capacity and 115 percent of the historical average for this period, which was previously recorded at 819,034 acre feet. The total capacity of Folsom Lake is 977,000 acre feet.

So far in June, the Folsom Dam has been operating continued releases with as many as five upper flood gates flowing at one time, day and night. Tuesday, inflow into Folsom was measured at 11,069 cubic feet per second. The current release was reportedly producing an outflow of 12,573 CFS, with 4,877 of that designated for power usage and 7,696 for river spillage.

The current level of Folsom Lake has exceeded its previous high point that was reached in 1978, but has yet to reach the high point it reached in 1983, one of the wettest winters in recent history that was comparable to that of 2016-2017. At 97 percent of capacity, the lake is just three feet from reaching its peak elevation.

In the years that Folsom Lake has reached its capacity, the event has routinely occurred in early June. Currently sitting at 97 percent, it is expected that Folsom Lake will put 2017 in the history books this coming week. Reaching the capacity mark is something local officials are waiting for as it will assist with ongoing clean up efforts.

Once the lake reaches its much-anticipated capacity, the clean up efforts will become much more manageable. Debris that is currently filling the shallow waters of the lake will become parked on the shoreline when the waters undergo their first recession of the season.

More at FolsomTelegraph.com >>>

Folsom Lake clean up continues

Over the Memorial Day holiday, a large population of boats were visible on Folsom Lake, enjoying the high temperatures during the three-day weekend. But it wasn’t just colorful vessels dotting the scape of the lake. Currently, a tremendous amount of debris continues to hamper many areas of the lake as boating season is well underway.

The large amount of debris is driftwood of all sizes, from big to small. Many of which can damage the hull or prop of a boat easily and could surely have detrimental results if struck by a personal watercraft at any speed. It’s the results of a record rainfall winter and officials are working as fast as they can to collect the debris and make the waters safe again.

“Fortunately, there haven’t been any major boat accidents as a result of the driftwood,” said Ryan Steele, peace officer supervisor of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. “There have been a few boats that have had their props removed or damaged. For those vessels that have a jet system, they can get a twig stuck in there that disables their vessel.”

More at FolsomTelegraph.com >>>

Discovery Park will open this weekend after four months of being underwater

After being flooded for months, Discovery Park will open its gates Saturday for Memorial Day weekend, Sacramento County Regional Parks announced Wednesday.

The 302-acre park closed in January during winter storms as heavy rains and high releases from Folsom Lake left it underwater. The popular summer destination sits at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers.

Tiscornia Beach and much of the park will remain closed, but the boat launch, some parking lots and picnic areas overlooking the confluence will be open. The Jibboom Bridge will open and the American River bike trail will be available through the closed areas.

More at SacBee.com >>>