Meeting Date:

December 12, 2005





David A. Berger,




General Manager

Line Item No.:




Prepared By:

Beverly Chaney /

Cost Estimate:



Dave Dettman




General Counsel Approval:  N/A

Committee Recommendation:  N/A

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


AQUATIC HABITAT AND FLOW CONDITIONS:  During November 2005, Carmel River streamflow conditions were good for juvenile steelhead rearing in the reach upstream of the Valley Greens Drive Bridge (River Mile 4.8), but poor to critical below the bridge.  The riverfront slowly advanced downstream throughout the month due to cooler weather, a couple of small storms, and riparian vegetation shutting down photosynthetic functions for the winter, ending up just downstream of the Rancho San Carlos Bridge (RM 3.9).


During November 2005, the mean daily streamflow recorded at the District’s Carmel River Sleepy Hollow Weir gaging station averaged 9.4 cubic feet per second (cfs) and ranged from 9.0 to 10 cfs.


There were only 0.78 inches of measurable rainfall in November as recorded by Cal-Am at San Clemente Dam (SCD).  The long-term November average is 2.2 inches at this site.  Rainfall total for water year 2006 is 0.84 inches, 29% of the long-term average.


CARMEL RIVER LAGOON:  The river mouth closed in early July and the lagoon filled with water, creating good fish habitat in the new South Arm.  Unfortunately, the sand berm breached, and much of the accumulated water drained from the lagoon. As reported in the June 20, 2005 fisheries staff note, the main body of the lagoon has a high level of accumulated sand this year and coupled with the low water surface elevation (WSE), the amount of steelhead rearing habitat is limited. 


Due to a data sensor problem, no WSE data are available for November.  Water quality was gradually improving with better dissolved oxygen (DO), cooler temperatures and less salinity in the upper water layer, but stratification is still strong with max salinity of ~18-20 ports per thousand (ppt) on the bottom.  Juvenile steelhead should be all right in the upper 1.5-meter zone with salinity of 3-4 ppt, good to excellent DO, and temperatures from 10-15 deg C.


The following Carmel River Lagoon physical parameters were measured and trends were noted in late November 2005:

Water Surface Elevation:


No Data Available 11/15 – 11/30

Data link to elevation sensor back in service on November 30, 2005 at 16:00 hours. Additional spot measurements made on November 27th and 30th, as part of water quality monitoring, showed WSE ranging from 5.17 to 5.22 feet. Apparently, water elevation was relatively stable during the period from November 24 to November 30.  Increase on December 1, 2005 consistent with direct rainfall and localized runoff.



Surface Water Quality:


Surface water stratification ameliorated since last report, but still strongly stratified by a salinity gradient from 1.5 to 2.5 meters. Upper zone with 3-4 ppt, mid-zone with 5 to 12 ppt, and lower with 12 to 21 ppt. The high salinity still precludes successful reproduction for red-legged frogs.  Stations O4 and O1 with slightly higher salinity in mid-zone indicates lower dilution now in expanded South Arm.

Dissolved oxygen shows general improvement since 11/22/05, wide variation among sites, but some depressed levels, especially below 2.0 meters. Other depths showing wide variation in concentration, depending on location. Shallow margins in northern arm of lagoon (N2), mid-section of south arm (S2) and southeast portion of new south arm (O1) show good quality with concentrations > 10 ppm.  Concentration lowest in open area of northeast portion of new south arm (O4). Steelhead now likely avoiding deeper water with low DO and high salinity. In general, less habitat area with poor quality DO.

Water temperatures are suitable throughout the water column, but show a warmer layer at the salinity cline and in deeper areas, probably due to retention and lack of mixing between surface and deeper water. Temperatures gradually cooling, especially in shallow margins. Based on habitat preferences for steelhead, fish are likely distributed in the upper zone where temperature are less than 15 deg C and now probably occupying shall areas with suitable dissolved oxygen.



Watershed and Runoff Conditions:

Graph of

Streamflow at Robles del Rio:

Flow was stable until November 29, affected by runoff from light showers on November 28-29, and more intense rain and runoff from December 1 storm with peak of near 20-25 cfs likely. Outflow at Los Padres Dam is regulated at ~ 9 to10 cfs.




Storage in Los Padres Reservoir: On November 30, 2005, surface storage in Los Padres Reservoir was 502 AF, approximately 1,110 AF less than full and 290 AF less than expected.  Slope of storage curve appears to be declining with possible upward trend.  Until LPR spills and lower Carmel Valley Aquifers refill, there is little chance of runoff exceeding levels needed for the river to reach the lagoon.  Rainfall/runoff from 12/1 storm is expected to begin refilling Los Padres Reservoir over the weekend



JUVENILE STEELHEAD RESCUES:  No rescues were needed in November.


SLEEPY HOLLOW STEELHEAD REARING FACILITY (Facility):  On July 14, 2005, staff began accepting rescued steelhead from the lower Carmel River.


As of November 30, approximately 18,865 fish were being held at the Facility, including 2,697 yearling fish and 16,168 young-of-the-year (YOY) fish, with a known overall survival rate of 77%.