Aquatic Center History
About the Aquatic Center
To provide high quality boating and safety programs through education, recreation and competition.
A Capsule History of the Home of the Sac State Aquatic Center
Briefly Summarized By: Bob Whitford
When Congress appropriated the funds to build the Folsom Dam in the early 1950’s, the Sacramento area finally had flood protection, waters storage and hydro-electric power it sought for decades. As part of that project a dam and catch basin was built that would help regulate the downstream area of water released into what would forever be called the “Lower American River”. Thus, Nimbus Dam and Lake Natoma were built.
Mitigation was required to protect the thriving salmon and steelhead runs which returned annually to their spawning grounds, now blocked by Nimbus Dam. The Bureau of Reclamation built and maintains a hatchery which is operated by the California Department of Fish and Game.
In the mid 1970’s, a collaborative group of water users and consumers partnered with the Bureau of Reclamation to build a canal (the Folsom South Canal) leading from Lake Natoma and terminating at SMUD’s nuclear power plant, Rancho Seco. This diversion of water from the Lower American was ruled illegal and the dewatering ordered to stop.
It is at the head of the Folsom South Canal that an eight acre peninsula was formed. The peninsula was first home to the project head quarters for the construction crew building the canal, then the peninsula was turned over to California State Parks where the California Conservation Corps used the facility to build park signs and picnic tables. In the 1980’s the use of this facility waned and became surplus. In 1981, the Associated Students of California State University, Sacramento (ASI) in collaboration with the University Union and State Parks reached a land use agreement and the Sac State Aquatic Center relocated from their temporary home up lake to the little eight acre peninsula and established a permanent home.
Just before the turn of the millennium, the Sac State Aquatic Center received a capital improvement grant from the California Division of Boating Waterways (DBAW) to build a flagship Boating Instruction and Safety Center (or BISC). For five years the Aquatic Center maintained operations while transforming from the out grown small metal building to a state of the art multi-use campus. In 2003 the realization of many hopes and dreams was opened to the public serving the mission of the Associated Students, Sacramento State University, DBAW, and the community of the greater Sacramento area.