Meeting Date:

April 18, 2005





David A. Berger,




General Manager

Line Item No.:




Prepared By:


Beverly Chaney /

Dave Dettman

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Approval:  N/A

Committee Recommendation:  N/A

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


AQUATIC HABITAT AND FLOW CONDITIONS:  During March 2005, Carmel River streamflow conditions were excellent for juvenile steelhead rearing, adult steelhead upstream migration, and downstream smolt and Kelt migration.


During March 2005, the mean daily streamflow recorded at the District’s Carmel River Sleepy Hollow Weir gaging station averaged 410 cubic feet per second (cfs) and ranged from 183 to 1,200 cfs. 


March rainfall was significantly above average with 4.97 inches of rainfall recorded by Cal-Am at San Clemente Dam (SCD), about 150% of the long-term March average of 3.31 inches at this site.  For Water Year (WY) 2004-2005, rainfall totaled 27.21 inches through March or 69% above the accumulated monthly average of 18.87 inches.


CARMEL RIVER LAGOON:  March 2005 was an exciting month at the Carmel River Lagoon.  The mouth was open throughout March with the water surface elevation (WSE) ranging between 4.0 feet and 10.5 feet above sea level (see graph below).  In early March, the outflow from the lagoon started to migrate farther to the north and towards the tall sand bluff along Scenic Road.   High river flows, and unusually large late winter waves and high tides continued to erode the bluff, threatening a large cypress tree, roadway, and the western corner of the beach parking lot (see photo below).  The entire Stewart’s Cove beach was washed away.  On March 10, Monterey County Public Works cut a new lagoon channel farther to the south to redirect the outflow away from the bluff.  Using bulldozers, they pushed sand back underneath the roadway and the exposed tree roots.


The newly expanded south arm of the lagoon, and much of the north arm stayed wet this winter maintaining good over-wintering rearing habitat for juvenile steelhead.  This is likely due to the lagoon being opened with a diagonal cut to the north in December instead of the usual straight cut to the west.  In past years, much of this habitat was lost during the winter as the lagoon outflow cut deeply through the sand berm thus draining the lagoon.

Carmel River Lagoon Water Surface Elevation (feet NGVD) – March 2005




B. Chaney, MPWMD 3/9/05


Photograph of eroded bluff along Scenic Road, Carmel, CA.  March 9, 2005.  The Carmel River Lagoon is in the background, outflow is along bluff.  Monterey County Public Works redirected the outflow away from the bluff on March 10, 2005, then pushed sand back up under the exposed cypress tree roots and undermined roadway.

ADULT STEELHEAD COUNTS AT SAN CLEMENTE DAM:  The District’s automatic adult fish counter at the San Clemente Dam Ladder has been in operation since December 28, 2004, when San Clemente Dam began spilling.  As of March 31, 2005, only 310 counts had been recorded, which is below the average run-to-date of 442 fish for the 1993-2004 period.  March 2005 had the lowest number of March adults, 90, since 1995 when the run was still recovering from a six-year drought.  At this rate, approximately 350 adults are expected to pass over the dam this season, also the lowest number since 1995. 


Staff is discussing the possible reasons for the low numbers of adults at the counter this year, including better spawning conditions in the lower Carmel River, low numbers of juvenile fish in 1999 and 2001, and poor water quality in the lagoon in 2002 that caused a fish die-off.



Adult Steelhead Count-- 2004-2005 season
San Clemente Reservoir Fish Ladder, Monterey County, CA





Dec 2004


Jan 2005


Feb 2005


Mar 2005


April 2005