Where the Water Comes from

The Water’s Journey

Gathering rain and snowmelt from over 1,300 square miles of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Yuba River begins as three separate tributaries, the North Yuba, Middle Yuba and the South Yuba rivers.

The North Yuba River

The North Yuba River starts its trek nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, at Yuba Pass. The river then parallels Highway 49 as far as Downieville, where it then flows westward into New Bullards Bar Reservoir.

The Middle Yuba River

The Middle Yuba River begins at Jackson Meadows Reservoir in Sierra County. It meanders through narrow, steep canyons until it reaches the 75-foot-high Our House Dam southwest of Camptonville, near the Sierra and Nevada County line.

Upstream of Our House Dam, water is diverted into a 3.8-mile-long tunnel that carries it to Oregon Creek. YCWA’s diversion of this water is spelled out in an agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and an additional agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

From Oregon Creek, water travels a short distance to Log Cabin Dam. Upstream from Log Cabin Dam, water is diverted into a 1.2 mile-long tunnel that carries it to New Bullards Bar Reservoir at which point it joins water from the North Yuba. At New Bullards Bar Dam, water is released into a 4.7 mile-long tunnel that carries it to turbines to generate electricity at the New Colgate Powerhouse. A portion of the Middle Yuba continues past the dams, where it rejoins the North Yuba just downstream of New Bullards Bar Dam.

The South Yuba River

The South Yuba River begins 9,000 feet above sea level near Castle Peak and Donner Lake. Dozens of creeks flow into the South Yuba as it moves downhill through Placer and Nevada Counties before entering Yuba County, near the old town-site of Bridgeport.

From there, the South Yuba joins the North and Middle, and flows into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Englebright Dam and Reservoir, just over three miles downstream from YCWA’s New Colgate Powerhouse.

The lower Yuba River

The lower Yuba River runs 24 miles from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Englebright Dam to its confluence with the Feather River near Marysville.

Daguerre Point Dam is located approximately 12 miles downstream from Englebright. Downstream from Daguerre Point Dam, the river continues to flow past the city of Marysville to a point where it joins the Feather River.

Water continues along the Feather River to the Sacramento River, eventually making its way to the Bay-Delta Estuary. Some water is diverted to irrigate crops and is also diverted by the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project pumps for irrigation and municipal supplies for the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. The remainder flows to the Pacific Ocean through the San Francisco Bay.