ITEM:

INFORMATION ITEMS / STAFF REPORTS CONSENT CALENDAR

 

16.

CARMEL RIVER FISHERY REPORT

 

Meeting Date:

September 20, 2004

Budgeted:

N/A

 

From:

David A. Berger,

Program/

N/A

 

General Manager

Line Item No.:

 

 

 

Prepared By:

 

Dave Dettman/

Beverly Chaney

Cost Estimate:

N/A

 

General Counsel Approval:N/A

Committee Recommendation:N/A

CEQA Compliance:N/A

 

AQUATIC HABITAT AND FLOW CONDITIONS:During August 2004, Carmel River streamflow conditions were poor to fair for juvenile steelhead rearing.By the end of August, the river had dried up approximately to California-American Waterís (Cal-Amís) Begonia Well (River Mile [RM] 7.8).In August, mean daily streamflow recorded at the Districtís Carmel River Sleepy Hollow Weir gaging station averaged 5.7 cubic feet per second (cfs) and ranged from 4.9 to 6.1 cfs.

 

In August 2004, 0.00 inches of rainfall were recorded by Cal-Am at San Clemente Dam (SCD).The long-term July average at this site is 0.04 inches.In the past six months, only 0.78 inches of rain were recorded at SCD, well below the long-term average of 5.6 inches.

 

CARMEL RIVER LAGOON:The Carmel River Lagoon was closed throughout August with the water surface elevation ranging from 4.6 feet to 2.5 feet above sea level, as shown below.

 

Carmel River Lagoon Water Surface Elevation (feet NGVD) Ė August 2004

During Spring 2004, the last opening occurred on April 28, 2004, which was the last opportunity for steelhead smolts to emigrate naturally to the ocean.†† As a consequence, relatively large numbers of juvenile steelhead were isolated in the lagoon and subjected to record low water levels during the week of July 18-24.During the latter half of July, losses of fish were observed due to bird predation and possibly anoxia.The water level on July 19 of 2.4 feet is the lowest July level since 1992, when the District began recording water levels in the Lagoon every 15 minutes.Normally, the lowest annual level is reached in mid- to late-August of each year.Under these low level conditions, the growth of algae adds large volumes of oxygen to the water.This growth can, however, deplete oxygen, especially during the nighttime and when the algae blooms die or organic matter decays in the lagoon.This process, coupled with chemical stratification of lagoon water due to salinity gradients, can force fish to the surface of the lagoon where they are susceptible to increased predation.

 

During August 2004, the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) continued work on the Carmel River Lagoon Restoration Project, which began on July 2, 2004.In an effort to lessen impacts from lowered water levels that may have been associated with the project, CDPR, California Department of Fish and Game, National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) continued efforts to implement a temporary plan for delivering freshwater to the lagoon from three sources, including tertiary-treated recycled water from the Carmel Area Wastewater Districtís (CAWDís) treatment plant, an irrigation well on CDRP property, and the newly excavated pit within the Lagoon Restoration Project area.

 

In August, CAWD released a total 6.67 Acre-Feet (AF) of tertiary-treated recycled water during the 3-day period from August 11-13, 2004.As indexed by the chart above, this release of reclaimed water increased the water surface elevation by approximately 0.75 feet and forestalled a continuance of near record low levels that persisted during the August 5-10 period. Over the last 2-month period the CAWD released a total of approximately 20 AF of water into the wetlands surrounding the Lagoon.These additions helped to shorten the length of time that extremely low water levels persisted in the lagoon and may have increased the survival of the remaining steelhead juvenile by reducing predation by avian species.

 

In August, CDPR activated an irrigation well to help provide a supplemental supply of freshwater to the lagoon.This effort was hampered by pump control problems and vandals who operated the well without authorization from CDPR.Nonetheless, by August 17 the pump was in full production, which resulted in an immediate increase in the lagoon water elevations. By August 20, the water levels had risen to 3.2 feet and CDPR scheduled the pump for 8 hours of daily operation.Continued pumping and some spillage of seawater into the lagoon during the August 20-25 period caused water elevations to increase above 3.4 feet on August 26, 2004. At this point, CDPR decided to cease pumping, due to USFWS concerns over pushing higher salinity water into a small pond with threatened species, red-legged frog tadpoles, which are intolerant of brackish water with salinities over 7.5 parts per thousand.Beginning August 25 and continuing through August 30, strong ocean swells coupled with very high tides caused additional seawater to spill over the sandbar, which further increased lagoon water elevations up to 4.6 feet.This rise heightened the concern over pushing brackish water into the frog pond.Consequently, no additional freshwater was added during the remainder of August 2004.

 

SUMMER FISH RESCUES IN THE LOWER CARMEL RIVER:On May 10, 2004, staff began fish rescues at Highway One.Through August 31, 2004, a total of 16,926 fish have been rescued up to Cal-Amís Begonia Treatment Plant at River Mile ~7.5 including 15,923 young-of-the-year, 721 yearlings, 67 smolts, and 2 adult. 213 fish died in transport for a survival rate of 99%.During August, staff continued to monitor flow conditions and the need to conduct additional fish rescues in the reach adjacent to DeDampierre Park and below Robinson Canyon Creek.

 

SLEEPY HOLLOW FISH REARING FACILITY:Staff began stocking fish at Sleepy Hollow on May 11, 2004.Through August 2004, a total of 16,137 fish have been stocked, including 15,481 young-of-the-year and 656 yearlings.Overall survival of stocked fish in the rearing channel remains high at 94%.

 

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