Meeting Date:

October 20, 2004





David A. Berger,




General Manager

Line Item No.:




Prepared By:


Dave Dettman/

Beverly Chaney

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Approval:N/A

Committee Recommendation:N/A

CEQA Compliance:N/A


AQUATIC HABITAT AND FLOW CONDITIONS:During September 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). But by mid-September, cooler weather and the decrease in riparian vegetation evapotranspiration, coupled with the reduction in Cal-Amís pumping in the mid-valley reach combined to let the river front slowly advance downstream approximately 1/4 mile.In September, mean daily streamflow recorded at the Districtís Carmel River Sleepy Hollow Weir gaging station averaged 6.2 cubic feet per second (cfs) and ranged from 5.3 to 7.0 cfs.


In September 2004, 0.04 inches of rainfall were recorded by Cal-Am at San Clemente Dam (SCD).The long-term September average at this site is 0.16 inches.In the past seven months, only 0.82 inches of rain were recorded at SCD, just 14% of the long-term average of 5.8 inches for this time period.


CARMEL RIVER LAGOON:The Carmel River Lagoon was closed throughout September with the water surface elevation ranging from 3.4 feet to 4.4 feet above sea level, as shown below.


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 and September 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 11.6 Acre-Feet (AF) of tertiary-treated recycled water into the lagoon.After the lagoon WSE dropped back down to 3.4 feet in late September (see chart), CAWD released an additional 7.9 AF recycled water bringing the WSE up to 4.4 feet.




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




SUMMER FISH RESCUES IN THE LOWER CARMEL RIVER:As of September 8, 2004, the riverfront had retreated to a point adjacent to Cal-Amís Begonia Treatment Plant (BTP). Mid-September staff conducted limited rescues in the reach between the BTP and Robinson Canyon.A total of 144 fish were rescued including 4 yearlings and 140 young-of-the-year.†† This rescue, along with 60 fish rescued from the DeDampierre Park reach, brings the total number of fish rescue up to 17,131 fish, including 16,123 young-of-the-year, 725 yearlings, 67 smolts, 2 adult, and 214 fish that died in transport for an overall survival of 99 percent.In addition to MPWMD rescues, the Carmel River Steelhead Association rescued a total of 8,300 fish, including 7,894 young-of-the-year, 404 yearlings, 2 adults and 78 fish that died in transport.Staff will continue to monitor the DeDampierre reach at RM 13.0.


SLEEPY HOLLOW FISH REARING FACILITY:Staff began stocking fish at the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility on May 11, 2004.Through September 30, 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 96% with daily-observed mortality now running at or near zero. Most fish are growing rapidly and many are approaching smolt size, approximately 6-8 inches, which is possibly a concern because of their potential to prey on smaller juvenile steelhead in the channel.Any potential effects of this will not be measured until the facility is demobilized this winter.