Putah Creek

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Putah Creek (Liwaito)
stream
Putah Creek, UC Davis.jpg
Putah Creek, UC Davis Arboretum
CountryUnited States
StateCalifornia
RegionYolo, Solano, Napa, and Lake counties
SourceCobb Mountain
 - coordinates38°48′26″N 122°43′21″W / 38.80722°N 122.72250°W / 38.80722; -122.72250 [1]
MouthEl Marcero
 - elevation36 ft (11 m) [1]
 - coordinates38°32′36″N 121°41′51″W / 38.54333°N 121.69750°W / 38.54333; -121.69750 [1]
Length85 mi (137 km) [2]
Basin638 sq mi (1,652 km2)
Dischargefor near Winters, CA
 - average477 cu ft/s (14 m3/s)
 - max81,000 cu ft/s (2,294 m3/s)
 - min0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
 
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Coordinates: 38°32′36″N 121°41′51″W / 38.54333°N 121.69750°W / 38.54333; -121.69750
Putah Creek (Liwaito)
stream
Putah Creek, UC Davis.jpg
Putah Creek, UC Davis Arboretum
CountryUnited States
StateCalifornia
RegionYolo, Solano, Napa, and Lake counties
SourceCobb Mountain
 - coordinates38°48′26″N 122°43′21″W / 38.80722°N 122.72250°W / 38.80722; -122.72250 [1]
MouthEl Marcero
 - elevation36 ft (11 m) [1]
 - coordinates38°32′36″N 121°41′51″W / 38.54333°N 121.69750°W / 38.54333; -121.69750 [1]
Length85 mi (137 km) [2]
Basin638 sq mi (1,652 km2)
Dischargefor near Winters, CA
 - average477 cu ft/s (14 m3/s)
 - max81,000 cu ft/s (2,294 m3/s)
 - min0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)

Putah Creek (Patwin: Liwaito[3]) is a major stream in Northern California, a tributary of the Yolo Bypass. The 85-mile-long (137 km)[2] creek has its headwaters in the Mayacamas Mountains, a part of the Coast Range. The true meaning of "Putah" in Putah Creek has been the subject of discussion and speculation.

Contents

Geography[edit]

The creek originates from springs on the east side of Cobb Mountain south of the town of Cobb in southwestern Lake County. It descends eastward to the town of Whispering Pines, where it turns southeast, parallelling State Route 175. It passes the town of Anderson Springs, where it joins Bear Canyon Creek. North of Middletown, it curves counterclockwise around Harbin Mountain, merging in close succession with Dry Creek, Helena Creek, Crazy Creek, Harbin Creek, and Big Canyon Creek. From Harbin Mountain, it flows east again, joining Bucksnort Creek, then enters Napa County at a confluence with Hunting Creek about 11 mi (18 km) east of Middletown. In Napa County, the creek flows southeast, merging with Butts Creek just before it empties into Lake Berryessa.

Downstream of Monticello Dam, on the southeastern corner of the lake, Putah Creek leaves Napa County and becomes the boundary between Yolo County and Solano County. In this section it offers excellent fishing/fly fishing opportunities year round. The stream continues East along State Route 128, meeting Pleasants Creek, McCune Creek, and Dry Creek and passing through the town of Winters to reach Interstate 505. From there it continues eastward, parallelling Putah Creek Road to Stevenson Bridge Road. A few miles east of Davis, the county line turns south, but the creek continues eastward, passing south of Davis to feed into the Yolo Bypass about a quarter mile (400 m) west of the Sacramento Deep Water Channel.

Dams and diversions[edit]

Monticello Dam, a concrete arch dam, is the only major storage dam on the creek. It forms Lake Berryessa, which has a capacity of 1,602,000 acre feet (1.976×109 m3), making it one of the largest reservoirs in the state of California. The dam and lake are part of the United States Bureau of Reclamation's Solano Project and was completed in 1957. [4] The project's purpose is to provide water for irrigation, though it also supplies municipal and industrial water to major cities in Solano County. About 32,000 acre feet (39,000,000 m3) is provided by the project annually. An 11 MW hydroelectric plant generates electricity for the Solano Irrigation District, which owns and operates the dam.

Putah Diversion Dam diverts water into Putah South Canal about 6 miles (9.7 km) downstream of Monticello Dam. The dam is a gated concrete weir structure with an earth-fill embankment wing. It creates the small Lake Solano, which has a capacity of only 750 acre feet (930,000 m3). The canal is entirely concrete-lined except for a mile (1.6 km) of pipe called the Putah South Pipeline. Most of the lands are below the level of the canal and are served by gravity. Lands above pump water straight from the canal. The canal ends at Terminal Dam, which is made from earth-fill. The dam forms a small 119 acre foot (147,000 m3) reservoir. The reservoir supplies drinking water to the city of Vallejo. Most of the canal is operated by Solano Irrigation District, but the Bureau of Reclamation operates the headworks.

Green River[edit]

Putah Creek is also known as the Green River due to the buildup of algae and vascular plants in the late summer. Putah Creek is the subject of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song Green River and served as a vacation spot for John Fogerty.[5]

Meaning of name[edit]

The true meaning of "Putah" in Putah Creek has been the subject of discussion and speculation. It was originally called "Arroyo de los Putos" (1844) and "Puta Creek" (1845), but the "Puta" form was rejected by the United States Board on Geographic Names, likely because of the resemblance to the Spanish puta, meaning whore.[6] Some consider the resemblance to be "purely accidental".[7] "Puta wuwwe" may also mean "grassy creek" in native Miwok.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Putah Creek
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 10, 2011
  3. ^ Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (1906), pt. 1, p.711
  4. ^ JENSEN, Peter (August 19, 2012). "1957: The year they flooded an agrarian paradise". Napa Valley Register (Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc.). Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  5. ^ Art Thompson. John Fogerty Summons His Creedence-Era Spirit on Revival
  6. ^ David L. Durham. California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Quill Driver Books, 1998, ISBN 1-884995-14-4, ISBN 978-1-884995-14-9, pp. 126, 542
  7. ^ a b Erwin G. Gudde, William Bright. California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. University of California Press, 2004, ISBN 0-520-24217-3, ISBN 978-0-520-24217-3, 460 pages

External links[edit]