SWAMP - Lower American River Recreational Water Quality

To request a copy of documents listed on this page, please contact Jessica Rader at Jessica.Rader@waterboards.ca.gov

Bacteria Source Study 2019-2022

aerial view of the lower american river where it meets the sacramento river at discovery park, green bridge going over river, highway and cars next to river

A multi-year collaborative study was conducted to investigate the sources of fecal pollution contributing to elevated bacteria levels in the Lower American River. The study was needed because sampling has shown that E. coli bacteria frequently exceed statewide bacteria water quality objectives at popular recreation areas. Study results show that the sources are primarily from birds and dogs, with minimal input from humans. The two-phased study was jointly developed and funded by the Central Valley Water Board, Sacramento Area Sewer District (SacSewer), Sacramento Stormwater Quality Partnership, and Sacramento County Regional Parks.

Learn more:

  • Video: Watch an overview of the Lower American River Bacteria Study, including discussion of why the study was needed and the findings.
  • Data Summary: Read about the final results from both Phase 1 and 2 of the source study.

View the Latest Results

SWAMP has conducted extensive monitoring on the Lower American River to track whether water quality supports swimming and other recreational uses. During the summer, weekly water quality samples are collected from beaches and recreational areas along the river from the Sunrise Recreation Area in Rancho Cordova to Tiscornia Park near downtown Sacramento.

About the Lower American River

aerial view of lower american river with boats in water next to shore

The Lower American River is a 23-mile reach of American River, flowing from the base of Lake Natoma at the Nimbus Dam to the confluence with the Sacramento River. This stretch of river is the most used recreational river in California and is the highlight of the American River Parkway. The Parkway offers numerous recreational opportunities including rafting, fishing, swimming, biking, walking, and outdoor education. The river provides essential spawning habitat for steelhead and fall-run Chinook salmon and its banks are home to numerous species of birds and other wildlife.

Additional Resources

  • Bacteria Water Quality Objectives
    In 2018 the State Water Board adopted new statewide bacteria water quality objectives to protect recreational users from the effects of pathogens in California water bodies.
  • California Harmful Algal Blooms Portal
    The Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Portal is the central resource for HABs in California. HABs can produce toxins that cause illnesses in people and animals. Visit the portal to learn more about HABs and see the latest bloom reports.
  • California Safe to Swim Map
    This interactive map on the Safe to Swim Portal displays bacteria data over time for coastal and inland monitoring locations throughout the state.
  • Healthy Swimming at Oceans, Lakes, and Rivers
    Visit CDC’s website to learn how to protect yourself and your family when swimming in oceans, lakes, and rivers.