Determination of channel capacity of the Mokelumne River downstream from Camanche Dam, San Joaquin and Sacramento Counties, California

Open-File Report

Prepared in cooperation with The Reclamation Board, State of California



This study evaluates the adequacy of a 39-mile reach of the Mokelumne River in San Joaquin and Sacramento Counties, California, to carry planned flood releases between Camanche Reservoir and the Bensons Ferry Bridge near Thornton. The flood releases from Camanche Reservoir are to be restricted, insofar as possible, so that the flows in the Mokelumne River will not exceed 5,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) as measured at the gaging station below Camanche Dam.

Areas of inundation and computed floodwater profiles are based on channel conditions in late 1970 and on observed water-surface profiles during flood releases of about 5,000 cfs in January 1969 and January 1970. The inundated area shown on the maps (appendix A) and the water-surface elevations indicated on the cross sections (appendix G) are for the flood releases of those dates.

The following conclusions are contingent on there being no levee failures during periods of high flow and no significant channel changes since the flood release of January 1970.

1. High tides in San Francisco Bay and, to a greater degree, flood stages on the Cosumnes River, cause backwater in the study reach. Severe backwater conditions occurring simultaneously with a flow of 5,000 cfs in the Mokelumne River can increase the flood stage 4 to 6 feet at Bensons Ferry Bridge (cross section 1). Backwater effects decrease in an upstream direction and are less than 0.5 foot at cross section 35, a river distance of 8.6 miles upstream from cross section 1, and 1.5 miles downstream from the Peltier Road bridge.

2. In the reach between cross sections 1 and 35, a 5,000 cfs release from Camanche Reservoir with maximum backwater effect (measured at cross section 1 at the mouth of the Cosumnes River) is confined within the natural or leveed banks except on the right bank flood plain between cross sections 12 and 19.

3. Upstream from cross section 35, there is overbank flooding at a flow of 5,000 cfs between cross sections 48 and 51, and 62 and 67.5. An increase in flow from 5,000 to 6,000 cfs will cause flooding between cross sections 43 and 47, 52 and 56, and 73 and 85.

4. A discharge of 5,000 cfs will pass through all bridge openings in the study reach except that of the Western Pacific Railroad Co. bridge at cross section 4. If large amounts of debris lodge on the railroad bridge when backwater from the Cosumnes River occurs, the debris could cause higher stages and flooding along the right bank between cross sections 5 and 12.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Determination of channel capacity of the Mokelumne River downstream from Camanche Dam, San Joaquin and Sacramento Counties, California
Series title:
Open-File Report
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Division
Publisher location:
Menlo Park, CA
iv, 64 p.
United States
Sacramento County;San Joaquin County
Other Geospatial:
Camanche Reservoir;Mokelumne River