Creek north of downtown Nevada City goes dry |

Creek north of downtown Nevada City goes dry

Upper Rock Creek at the bridge on Rector Road, outside of Nevada City, near Camp Del Oro. A small bird on the rock looking at the small pool of water.
John Hart/ | The Union

Upper Rock Creek, a tributary of the South Yuba River, has gone dry for the first time since 2008, area environmentalists announced.

“This is just a reminder that we need to be thinking about water conservation so that we have enough water to last through the season,” said Rachel Hutchinson, river science director for the South Yuba River Citizens League. “It’s important that the public knows that our streams are in danger of drying up in drought years like this one.”

Rock Creek is the feeder waterway for Lake Vera, a seasonal summer resort lake about 2 1/2 miles north of downtown Nevada City. Hutchinson said the creek’s dry status was discovered July 12 by one of SYRCL’s volunteer river monitors and posted late last week on, a water storage data website for the local area.

“Every month, between March and November, we send out volunteers to 35 locations on the main stems of the South Yuba, the Middle Yuba and the North Yuba rivers,” Hutchinson said.

The results are then posted bi-weekly on, she said, adding, “They get to be the local river watchdogs.”

Hutchinson said the impact of the creek going dry will likely be felt at Lake Vera through lower levels for swimming and boating as the summer continues, as well as possible impacts on private residential wells in the general surrounding area.

“Of course, there is also the impact that any fish that were in the creek have perished, as well as frogs and insects,” she added.

The last time Upper Rock Creek went dry was in 2008, Hutchinson said.

Chip Close, operations manager for Nevada Irrigation District, said Upper Rock Creek was not part of the NID water collection system, so its dryness would not have a direct impact on NID water storage.

“NID facilities are not on that side of the ridge,” Close said. “Most of our water in that area comes from the South Yuba canal and flows to Scotts Flat Lake.”

However, Close, one of the speakers at last week’s NID water summit, said the dry creek should be noted by everyone as even one more reason to focus on water conservation.

“This is another fine example of why we’re asking everyone in Nevada and Placer counties to conserve,” Close said. “This is a very dry year, and we are just now starting to see indications of how dry things really are.”

The next SYRCL volunteer river monitoring date is set for Aug. 9, Hutchinson said.

Meanwhile, anyone else in the public who wishes to speak with SYRCL about river status or impacts of the drought may contact Marianne Pott at or 530-265-5961 ext. 213.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email or call 530-477-4239.

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