The Water’s Uses
Since construction of the New Bullards Bar Dam, the number of chinook salmon returning to spawn in the Yuba River has averaged 13,090 per year. That’s slightly above the average annual recorded number prior to construction. Steelhead, rainbow trout plus shad also flourish on the Yuba.
Chinook salmon have done this well on the Yuba because the Agency is able to influence water temperatures and stabilize flows downstream where the fish come to spawn. New Bullards Bar Dam has outlets at several elevations so water can be drawn from the elevation that will provide the best temperature for downstream fish. In mid-April water is drawn from closer to the surface of the reservoir to warm up the river for better growth and rearing conditions. In early October deeper water cools the Yuba for the chinook who need colder temperatures for successful spawning.
The Yuba is one of a few major California rivers that does not have a fish hatchery or a planting program. The California Department of Fish and Game manages the Yuba as a natural spawning river.
New Bullards Bar Dam Outlet Arrangement
New Bullards Bar Dam was built to release water from different elevations to be able to modify downstream water temperatures. Reservoir water can be released into Colgate Penstock through either the lower or upper Penstock Outlets. Since 1993 only the lower outlet has been used to meet a California Department of Fish and Game request to release the coldest water as possible. This was done to improve Lower Yuiba River Fishery habitat conditions.