Worsening drought conditions are leading to substantial cuts in American River flows and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will begin reducing them starting tonight.

"The plan that they've announced is to reduce the flow tonight around midnight from 1100 CFS, the current flow, to 800 CFS," said Tom Gohring of the Sacramento Water Forum.

Gohring continued to say that the flow will then be lowered in stages until just 500 cublic feet is flowing on Friday.  The goal is to preserve water behind the Folsom Dam by matching outflow to the low upstream inflow to Folsom Reservoir.

"We have roughly the same amount of snowpack and upstream storage in our basin that we had at this time in 1977," added Gohring.  Comparatively, the median January flowrate is 1700 cubic feet per second.

While the preservation is critical to nearly a half-million people in subruban Sacramento, Gohring says the effort will likely strand and kill 10-15% of the wild Chinook salmon eggs from the fall run.