North Fork American River: Auburn, CA
A DESTROYED DAM IS REBORN AS A CENTER FOR RECREATION
Building Advantage from Adversity – Construction on the Auburn Dam on the American River was halted due to seismic concerns, and in 1986 the dormant site was devastated by a massive flood. The McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group developed a plan to restore the river and create a center for whitewater recreation. Among the design goals for the restoration were for the facility to …
- Divert 250 cfs water on a permanent basis
- Withstand 220,000 cfs flood flow levels
- Offer low-maintenance whitewater
- Provide passage for fish
A Nationwide First – The project is the nation’s largest river restoration project that includes an integrated whitewater rapid. The McLaughlin Group’s design highlights…
- Whitewater for beginning and intermediate paddlers and expert competitors at higher flows, and for instruction and general recreation
- A roughened channel fish passage for trout and steelhead and salmon.
- The McLaughlin Chute Screen (patented), diverts water from the bottom of the river while providing a low hazard passage for whitewater boaters. The fine screen meets strict California fish screening standards while using high water velocity to keep out debris.
This wave is one of the best in the country, and to have access to it is incredible.
- Katie Scott, kayaking competitor, as interviewed by the Sacramento Bee
Services Provided – Conceptual Design Alternatives / Public Process / Permitting Support (Environmental permitting by Surface Water Resources, Inc.) / Preliminary and Final Design / Physical Model
The site is home to the Auburn River Festival, which celebrates the river’s return and features a freestyle event on high quality whitewater.