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Homeless Along American River May Be Impacted As Water Released From Folsom Dam

FOLSOM (CBS13) — Folsom Lake is just 58% full, but the federal government is now releasing water from the dam.

Homeless people along the American River worry the rising water levels could leave them displaced.

"We'll probably just go on the other side like we did before," one person said.

The main spillway is closed, and the feds are releasing water through the power plant — but why during a drought?

"What we need to do is vacate space in Folsom Reservoir so it can absorb the inflow from succeeding storm events," said Drew Lessard with the Bureau of Reclamation.

The lake level is rapidly rising with runoff flowing into the lake, at times, at a rate of enough water to fill 400 backyard swimming pools a minute.

Although the lake is just 58% full, it's 142% of an average year — and more storms are coming. The plan is to triple the release by Thursday to make room, flowing through Nimbus Dam.

"If we have no space and a huge inflow of water were to come in, we would have to pass that huge inflow downstream, and the levees can't handle that much flow and would overtop and flood Sacramento," Lessard said.

The release will raise the water levels of the American River, potentially impacting homeless camps in the area.

The City of Sacramento is reaching out via social media and in person, warning anyone living along the water's edge to seek higher ground.

"If you're camping along the river and water level starts coming up, no matter when that happens, it's not an easy process to move all your belongings," said Greg Fishman with the City of Sacramento. "So hopefully the word will get out."

The release began Tuesday at 12 a.m. and will continue through Thursday.

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