Meeting Date:

February 28, 2008





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 January 2008, Carmel River streamflow conditions improved dramatically early in the month when a major storm hit the area.  On January 4, Los Padres Reservoir filled and spilled in approximately six hours, causing the formerly dry reach of the Carmel River below Robinson Canyon to begin flowing. 


Early on January 5, the river reached the Carmel River Lagoon, which was already filling due to large storm waves and a high tide.  The lagoon reached a record high water level, but as the tide receded, the lagoon breached naturally to the south over the wave-lowered sand berm. 


A lack of rain for the next ten days, coupled with the depleted Carmel Valley alluvial aquifer, caused river flow to rapidly decline in the lower valley through mid-January.  As the flow approached 15 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the Highway 1 Bridge, staff began walking the river below Valley Greens Road to check for stranded adults and smolts.  No adults and few juvenile fish were spotted and no rescues were needed. 


During January 2008, the mean daily streamflow recorded at the District’s Carmel River at Sleepy Hollow Weir gaging station averaged 311 cfs and ranged from five to 1,570 cfs.  During January 2008, 12.56 inches of rainfall were recorded at California American Water’s (CAW) San Clemente Dam.  This amount is the third wettest January on record, only behind the amounts recorded in 1969 and 1995.  The long-term average rainfall for January at this location is 4.34 inches.  The rainfall total for Water Year 2008 to date is 15.05 inches, which is 134% of the long-term average of 11.20 inches for the water year to date.


CARMEL RIVER LAGOON:  On January 5, the lagoon’s water surface elevation (WSE) rose from approximately six feet to 12.6 feet, the highest WSE ever recorded (see chart below) due to storm waves and a rapidly rising river.   The lagoon beached naturally to the southern end of the beach and the WSE dropped to between two and four feet.  A series of late-month storms again brought the WSE over seven feet.

 WSE at the Carmel River Lagoon, January 2008



ADULT STEELHEAD COUNTS AT SAN CLEMENTE DAM:  The fish counter was installed in December 2007.  The first upstream migrating fish for the 2007-2008 season were counted on January 10, 2008 (Exhibit 24-A).  As of January 31, 28 steelhead had been counted.  All fish are being digitally videotaped for future analysis.  Compared to the 2006-2007 season, the start of this year’s adult migration was approximately four weeks earlier due to the early January storm and lagoon opening. Unfortunately, no adult steelhead have been counted passing CAW’s Los Padres Dam’s trap and truck facility this month.


MODIFYING AN OBSTRUCTION TO FISH MIGRATION:  This past fall, District staff discovered that a large rock slide had blocked nearly the entire river in a steep canyon approximately one mile above Los Padres Reservoir.  In early December 2007, District staff and California Department of Fish and Game personnel were able to create a small bypass channel around the edge of the slide by jack hammering out a few large boulders and filling in gaps between other rocks.  Assistant Fisheries Biologist Cory Hamilton checked the site on January 18 and the bypass channel was functioning well.  A couple of the large boulders, that the crew had been unable to move, had been shifted by the storm flows.  We believe adult steelhead passing Los Padres Dam can proceed unimpeded into the upper Carmel River watershed in the Ventana Wilderness.


SLEEPY HOLLOW STEELHEAD REARING FACILITY:  The first rescued fish were brought to the Facility on May 14, 2007.   By the end of August 2007, a total of 10,846 fish had been stocked in thirteen tanks and troughs at the Facility.  Most of the rescued young-of-the-year (YOY) fish started out quite small and represented a significant rearing challenge at the Facility.  In addition, the critically-dry inflow conditions in WY 2007 increased the stress level in fish rescued from drying reaches and isolated pools, and many fish were infected with one of several diseases or parasites when they arrived at the Facility.  With water temperatures dropping to as low as 43° F, disease outbreaks were negligible and mortality rates remained low during the winter months. 


During the early January storm, staff was concerned with the amount of stress the fish were exhibiting in the tanks, while being held in near-zero visibility water, and the possibility of pump failure at the Facility due to high river turbidity.  A total of 2,780 fish were released from the Facility over two days with the large and smolting fish going to the lagoon (27%), and the smaller, non-smolting fish being released back into the river (73%) at the Facility and upper valley (Exhibit 24-B).  Overall steelhead survival at the Facility during the 2007 rearing season was 26%.



24-A    Adult Steelhead Counts at San Clemente Dam

24-B    Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility 2007 Summary