Trinity River water flows can change quickly

Increased flows in April from Lewiston and Trinity Reservoirs into the Trinity River can be a safety concern. Here is what you need to know.

Posted: Apr 20, 2019 7:07 PM
Updated: Apr 20, 2019 7:24 PM

TRINITY COUNTY, Calif. - Trinity River flows are fluctuating a lot this month due to increased flows from the Trinity and Lewiston Reservoirs. The snowmelt is also very cold, hitting in the upper 40's above the North Fork of the Trinity River. Because of these conditions river users are asked to be cautious and to check river flows before cementing recreation plans.

Conditions can change on a daily basis, said David Steinhauser, owner of Trinity River Rafting.

Steinhauser shot this video of the river on Saturday, when the peak release was set at 4000 cubic feet per second (cfs).

Trinity County Search & Rescue personnel had to hoist two people out of the river last Thursday near the Douglas City Bridge when flows were high. (Photos in the gallery include training in swift water rescue on the Trinity River, provided by Trinity River Rafting)

The two people were on a rafting trip and became stranded  when peak flows were 8,850 cfs. The prior day the peak release was set for 9,850 cfs.

The graph below shows the spring flow release schedule set up by the Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP). The multi-agency program has eight partners that together make up the Trinity Management Council (TMC).


2019 is forecast to be a "wet water year" so spring restoration flows are different than during drier years. April 14, 2019 was the first day of the new water releases.

Here is a different graphic from the TRRP that shows the schedule of 2019 spring releases. It shows that the highest flows down the river will be on April 29, 2019. Those flows are set for 10,900 cfs. That is expected to be the largest water release down the Trinity River this spring.

The TRRP implements the Interior Department's 2000 Record of Decision that directs the Department of the Interior to restore the fisheries of the Trinity River impacted by dam construction and related diversions of the Trinity River Division of the Central Valley Water Project.

According to TRRP officials, the water diversions of the Trinity River Division compounded impacts to the river that occurred from gold mining and historic logging practices.

The purpose of the 2000 Record of Decision "to restore and maintain the Trinity River's anadromous fishery resources…  [by] … rehabilitating the river itself."

The Trinity River was designated as a Wild and Scenic River in 1981.

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