Category Archives: Rafting

Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma had high E. coli readings

Environmental advocates are calling on state officials to notify the public about past tests showing high levels of E. coli in Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma, two of the region’s most popular areas for open water swimming and boating.

But officials responsible for recreational use on the lakes say the test results cited are too old, while the agency that conducted the tests says it has no responsibility for public notices.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in December concluded that the amount of E. coli in the lower American River had exceeded the federal threshold for safe recreational use. The test results didn’t become public until The Sacramento Bee reported them in late August.

The findings were based on water samples taken from 2007 to 2014. Some tests showed E. coli concentrations in Lake Natoma were eight times the level considered safe for recreational use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A board report earlier this year found elevated E. coli levels in the lower American River in 2015 and 2016, but did not include samples from Lake Natoma and Folsom Lake, where tens of thousands of people swim, boat and fish every year. The board has limited funds for testing and wanted to focus on areas where higher levels had been found in the past, said Adam Laputz, assistant executive officer at the board. The highest concentrations have been near downtown Sacramento.

E. coli can sicken and even kill people who swim in or drink contaminated water. State and county officials have said they’re not aware of anyone getting sick from the bacteria in the American River.
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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.”

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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.

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Body recovered from American River near Capital City Freeway

Sacramento Fire Department boat crews have recovered a body from the American River.

The body of a black male adult was located Monday afternoon under the Union Pacific Railroad bridge near the Capital City Freeway overcrossing, said Chris Harvey, Fire Department spokesman..

He said Union Pacific crews were working on top of the bridge about 3 p.m. when they spotted what appeared to be a body in the water below and contacted the fire department.

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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.

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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.”

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Rafting scene mild, not wild, at annual American River event

Rafting Gone Wild wasn’t quite as wild as it was last year.

Last year, one of the organizers of Rafting Gone Wild jumped off a bridge to avoid law enforcers. Park rangers made six arrests at the 2016 event on suspicion of everything from public intoxication to battery on a police officer.

This year, that level of mayhem was not equaled as of late Saturday afternoon.

At the Clay Banks off El Manto Drive in Rancho Cordova, hundreds of kayaks, rafts and other floatation devices moved across the American River early Saturday.

Participants varied widely in age, from the very young to the elderly. They also varied widely in their levels of public intoxication. Although there were signs around the river indicating that alcohol was banned, some did not heed the warning. While many rafts featured large families out to have outdoor fun on a hot day, others had large coolers, flasks and drink cups.

As of 6 p.m., there was no official report of the number of arrests made and citations issued.

While the event’s Facebook page describes the area as “the biggest party on the shores,” there wasn’t much obvious public drinking, likely influenced by the park rangers who were stationed right off the river.

“People are trying (to party) but they’re just staking it out,” said one female rafter. When her group was asked if they had been drinking, all but one smiled and shook their heads no. One member, however, gave two thumbs up.

Bill Thomas, one of the rafters, led a group of family and friends that came from as far as Santa Rosa, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and even Florida.

For Thomas, Rafting Gone Wild is a yearly tradition. For past events, he has made a PVC pipe water-shooter and a cross-beam water balloon slingshot, the latter of which was later banned from the event. He said the number of revelers has decreased over the years.

“Each year there are fewer and fewer people here,” he said. “I think that has a lot to do with tablets and other forms of entertainment that we didn’t have back in the day.”

Still, Thomas and his group still enjoy the event. “We really love it,” he said.

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