Yuba River Waterkeeper – the newest member of the California Coastkeeper Alliance – has launched a critical campaign to protect the Yuba and Bear Rivers from a proposed 110,000 acre-foot reservoir with a 275 foot-tall dam. In a time of record drought and climate change we need creative solutions to address our local water needs, and big, expensive dams are a thing of the past.
The Centennial Dam would inundate the last six miles of publicly accessible, free-flowing river on the Bear, completely flooding the Bear Campground, more than 25 homes and 120 parcels, 140 Native American cultural sites, and Dog Bar Bridge, the only crossing of the Bear River between Highway 49 and Highway 174. More than half of the water in the upper Middle and South Yuba River watersheds is diverted to the Bear River. Yuba River Waterkeeper is concerned that Centennial Dam, if built, could demand even more Yuba River water, especially when dry years leave the new reservoir low.
Nevada Irrigation District should be looking for alternative ways to manage limited water resources that are environmentally sustainable such as restoring meadows, wetlands, and floodplains. The utility should consider a range of alternative actions such as repairing or modifying its aging facilities, improving canal efficiency, incentivizing water conservation, stopping leaks, and metering water. A new dam should be the last alternative considered, not the first.
Yuba River Waterkeeper is mobilizing and assembling a team of 1,000 Dam Watchdogs to scrutinize every angle of the Centennial Dam project and raise awareness of the impacts on the Yuba and Bear Rivers, water supply and wildlife.