PCWA American River Water Diversion

Auburn, California


  • Conceptual design alternatives
  • Hydraulic and channel stability analyses
  • Public process
  • Permitting support
  • Preliminary and final design
  • Physical model

This large river restoration and multi-purpose project that includes an integrated whitewater rapid was born from a degraded site on the American River. In 1986, the Auburn Dam site on the American River was devastated by a massive flood. The site had already languished for years after being shut down due to seismic activity. Our staff developed a plan to restore the river, implement a state-of-the-art water intake, and create a multipurpose center for whitewater recreation. The multi-million dollar, nationally significant project and unique design has operated successfully—passing floods, sediments, and fish, while diverting flows and providing recreation—since it was completed.

Multipurpose, dynamic design provides water security to surrounding communities, restored a previous dam site, creates fish passage, and whitewater recreation – win, win, win, win...

american river - highlight-4
american river - highlight-7
american river - highlight-5
american river - highlight-8
american river - highlight-6

Key Project Highlights

  • Roughened channel fish passage
  • “Chute Screen”TM boatable diversion intake screen
  • Whitewater rapid with waves
  • Sediment transport
  • Low-maintenance in-river features
  • Unique fine screen intake meets State of California standards for salmonoid species for both adult and fry
  • Reliably diverts up to 250 cfs
  • Has survived flood flows that overtop the features by over 20 feet of fast-moving flow
  • Public safety measures
  • Fish-friendly and low maintenance