Folsom Lake Water Level: 2023 Watch
Updated: Jan 11
Note to boaters: official word on Folsom Lake's speed limit has to come from the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation. Check the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area page for more information or call (916) 988-0205 during normal business hours.
If you follow the news, you know that Folsom Lake's water level fluctuates depending on the season and precipitation.
Because of California's ongoing drought, many Sacramento area recreational boaters were concerned about the lake's water level falling low enough at some point during the 2022 boating season to trigger a vessel speed limit reduction to 5 MPH. That happened on September 17, 2022.
Relative water levels for Folsom Lake
Below is a three-year comparison of the reservoir's water levels. The information is sourced from the California Department of Water Resources.
Folsom Lake's full pool level is 466 feet in elevation. The full pool level is represented by the bold green line in the following chart.
If the chart doesn't render in your browser, you can view it here.
The bold red line represents the technical cutoff point for boat speeds above 5 MPH. As of January 4, 2023, there was no official word from the Department of Parks and Recreation about lifting the 5 MPH limit.
A recap of 2021 & 2022
As you can see by the dashed purple line in the chart, the level jumped up during the final days of 2022 after an atmospheric river rain event. 2022 ended with Folsom Lake's water level at 423.68 feet.
In 2022, the water level rose through June 11. Since the high of 455.7 feet, the water level fell faster than it did in 2021 — water managers made additional releases to make up for shortages at other area reservoirs.
The heavy foothills rain and Sierra snow in November and December of 2021 raised Folsom Lake's water level to 427 feet — up from an October 21st low for the year of 370.28 feet.
How deep is the lake?
The above numbers may make you wonder what Folsom Lake's depth is. A 2005 survey measured the minimum bottom of Folsom Lake to be about 190 feet of elevation.
This means that at full pool level, the deepest part of the reservoir is 466 - 190 = 276 feet.
When the Folsom Lake Water level is at the 5 MPH cutoff speed for vessels, the deepest part of the reservoir is 400 - 190 = 210 feet.
Additional facts about the lake
Folsom Lake is a reservoir located in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento, California. The lake is fed by the American River. It has a maximum pool capacity of 977,000 acre-feet.
Folsom is the largest reservoir in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and provides water for the city of Sacramento and surrounding areas.
The lake was created in 1955 with the construction of the Folsom Dam on the American River. The dam was built to provide flood control — and water for irrigation and municipal water supplies.
The City of Folsom was named in honor of Joseph Libby Folsom, its founder. Both the lake and the dam adopted the city's name.