The Carson River begins in the Sierra Nevada southeast of Lake
Tahoe as two separate forks.The united Carson River flows through
the Carson Valley and into Lahontan Reservoir, draining after 184
miles into the Carson Sink wetlands in the Great Basin of Nevada.
Serving as the “lifeline of the Southwest,” and one of the most
heavily regulated rivers in the world, the Colorado River
provides water to 35 million people and more than 4 million acres
of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles.
The Klamath River flows 253 miles from Southern Oregon to the
California coast, draining a basin of more than 15,000 square
miles. The watershed and its fisheries have been the subject of
negotiation since the 1860s negotiations that have intensified
and continue to this day.
The Klamath, Trinity, Eel, Russian and Smith rivers are the major
northern streams that drain this sparsely populated, forested
coastal area that stretches from San Francisco to the Oregon
border. These rivers and their tributaries flow west to the
Pacific Ocean and account for about 40 percent of the state’s
The Russian River drains the sparsely populated, forested coastal
area that stretches from San Francisco to the Oregon border.
Along the Russian, federally funded dams have created Lake
Mendocino (at the Coyote Dam) and Lake Sonoma (Warm Springs Dam).
Locally built aqueducts channel water from these lakes into
growing Marin and Sonoma counties.
The Sacramento River is California’s largest river, providing 35
percent of the state’s developed water supply. The river helps
support the valley’s millions of acres of irrigated agriculture
and is home to wildlife and a range of aquatic species, including
rearing habitat for 70 percent of all salmon caught off the
From its headwaters high in California’s Sierra Nevada, the
Truckee River flows into and through Lake Tahoe, continuing down
the Truckee River canyon to the Reno metropolitan area and then
across miles of Nevada high desert before flowing into Pyramid
Lake, 40 miles northeast of Reno.
The San Joaquin River, which helps drain California’s Central
Valley, has been negatively impacted by construction of dams,
inadequate streamflows and poor water quality. Efforts are now
underway to restore the river and continue providing agricultural
lands with vital irrigation, among other water demands.