Meeting Date:

August 20, 2007





David A. Berger,




General Manager

Line Item No.:




Prepared By:

Beverly Chaney

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Approval:  N/A

Committee Recommendation:  N/A

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


AQUATIC HABITAT AND FLOW CONDITIONS:  During July 2007, Carmel River streamflow conditions were poor for juvenile steelhead rearing with low flow to Robinson Canyon Road Bridge (River Mile [RM] 8.4), and mostly dry conditions downstream of the bridge.  In addition, a reach approximately a half-mile long in the DeDampierre area (RM 13.2) has dried.   During July 2007, the mean daily streamflow recorded at the District’s Carmel River at Sleepy Hollow Weir gaging station averaged 4.3 cubic feet per second (cfs) and ranged from 3.5 to 4.7 cfs.  For additional Water Year 2007 flow information, see  There were 0.02 inches of rainfall recorded at San Clemente Dam in July 2007 by CAW, compared to the long-term July average of 0.03 inches at this site.  The rainfall total for Water Year 2007 to date (October – July) is 11.39 inches, 53% of the long-term average of 21.33 inches through July. 


CARMEL RIVER LAGOON:  During July 2007, the lagoon’s water surface elevation (WSE) dropped to 3.1 feet before recovering slightly to approximately 3.4 feet at the end of July, presumably by seawater overtopping the berm, (see chart below).  The second chart shows the six-foot decline in the lagoon’s WSE during the three month period from May 1 to July 31, 2007.


Status of Carmel River Lagoon Steelhead Rescues Proposed by Carmel River Steelhead Association (CRSA):  District staff have provided information on the benefits, risks, assumptions and trade-offs surrounding potential lagoon rescues to the CRSA, California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  District staff have also conducted bi-monthly lagoon water quality sampling to convey to the regulatory decision-makers (CDFG and NMFS), and the landowner, California State Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR).  Lagoon water temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are climbing, dissolved oxygen and lagoon depth is dropping, such that lagoon habitat may no longer be suitable for fish in the next month or so, and is sub-optimal at this time.  CDFG verbally approved rescues, pending formal approval in writing from NMFS.   However, NMFS decided that the risks were too high versus the potential benefits of conducting rescues, and did not authorize rescues to occur.

WSE at the Carmel River Lagoon, July 2007



WSE at the Carmel River Lagoon, May - July 2007



JUVENILE STEELHEAD RESCUES: Staff began annual summer juvenile steelhead rescues on May 7, 2007.  As of July 31, 2007, approximately 11,903 juvenile steelhead, and 14 adults, have been rescued from the lower seven and a half miles of the Carmel River between the Highway 1 Bridge and Robinson Canyon Road Bridge (RM 8.46), and approximately one half-mile of stream in the DeDampierre reach (RM 13.2)  Most of the fish rescued are "young-of-the-year" (YOY) steelhead that were born this year and are between one and three inches long.  Most of these rescued steelhead were transported to the District's Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility (Facility) in the Upper Carmel Valley for rearing.  However, of this total, 828 steelhead were released in Garland Park or near Garzas Creek in the upper river, before the Facility came on-line for the year.


SLEEPY HOLLOW STEELHEAD REARING FACILITY:  The first rescued fish were brought to the Facility on May 14, 2007.   As of July 31, 2007, a total of 10,586 fish has been stocked in thirteen tanks and troughs at the Facility.  Most of the rescued YOY fish are quite small and represent a unique rearing challenge at the Facility.  In addition, this year’s critically dry inflow conditions have increased the stress level on fish rescued from drying reaches and isolated pools, and many fish are infected with one of several diseases or parasites when they arrive at the Facility.  Despite ongoing prophylactic and remedial treatments, size grading, and improved rearing conditions, these small fish are suffering from disease outbreaks and predation by only slightly larger fish and have a survival rate to date of only 33%.  Survival rates for both the older juvenile fish and the larger YOY fish have been good at approximately 77%.  As of July 31, 2007, 4,357 fish (4,149 YOY and 208 age 1+ juveniles) have survived.  So far 6,229 fish have died during rearing, for a total survival rate to date at the Facility of 41%.


A CDFG fish pathologist visited the Facility in late July to examine and diagnose the fish.  Moderate levels of Ich and some Columnaris spp. were found in some tanks, typical for the elevated water temperatures we are experiencing, though those conditions are occurring approximately three weeks earlier than in prior normal water years.  Rescued fish from the vicinity of Robinson Canyon Road, which had abundant infestations of Black Spot are not contagious, and are being mixed in with the non-infected fish.  The parasite cannot complete its life cycle in the Facility.


The Facility’s cooling tower was inoperable for approximately one and a half weeks during July as the motor that runs the fan failed and had to be replaced.  During this time, water temperatures reached approximately 71 degrees Fahrenheit in the Facility, possibly aggravating the disease outbreak problems.


 While diagnosing that problem, we also experienced a cold well pump failure.  The Facility’s designer, David Dettman, was retained on an emergency contract basis to assist in troubleshooting both problems.  The pumps in the cold well were clogged with a hard iron-laden sediment crust that had to be scraped off to get the pumps back on line. 


On July 16 and 17, District Fisheries staff was interviewed by a news crew from local television stations KION-46-CBS and KCBA-35-FOX.  Operations at the Facility and of the fish rescue crew in the field were filmed.  The news story emphasized the District’s steelhead rescues annually conducted as mitigation for the impact of California American Water and other potable water production from the Carmel River basin, especially in light of 2007 being a “critically-dry” water year.