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The Cache Creek Watershed

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is the area of land that water flows through, including water that runs off streets, hills, and mountains into a stream, river, lake, or ocean. Water flows both on the surface and underground. There are many watersheds in California; some watersheds are small and some are large. Every stream, tributary, or river has a watershed, and the watersheds connect to each other to form larger watersheds.  

Map of the Cache Creek watershed in California

How Watersheds Help the Environment

A watershed helps the environment by:

  • Collecting water from rainfall or melted snow
  • Storing water of various amounts and for different times
  • Releasing water for runoff
  • Cleaning water by filtering pollutants
  • Providing habitat for flora and fauna

Cache Creek Watershed

The Cache Creek watershed covers approximately 745,600 acres in Yolo, Colusa, and Lake counties. It connects to the larger Sacramento River watershed.

Cache Creek is the main outflow of Clear Lake, the largest freshwater natural lake in California. The headwaters of the North Fork Cache Creek begin at the peak of Goat Mountain. The main stem of Cache Creek flows east from Lake County into Yolo County. In Yolo County, the creek is joined by two main tributaries: North Fork Cache Creek and then Bear Creek, which is in Colusa County.

Where the Creek Flows

Once Cache Creek flows into Yolo County, it continues through the Capay Valley until it reaches the Capay Diversion Dam. The Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (YCFCWCD) diverts some flows into its irrigation system. Cache Creek continues downstream of Capay Dam before it terminates in the Cache Creek Settling Basin.

Cache Creek is considered an intermittent stream, meaning that during some years, parts of the creek flow underground rather than on the surface. 

Keeping Cache Creek Healthy

The Cache Creek Conservancy helps to keep the lower Cache Creek watershed healthy through its restoration program and invasive weed management work. Another way the CCC helps to keep the watershed healthy is its annual Creek Cleanup in the fall.