Consider Expenditure of Budgeted Funds for Preparation of Water Intake Study for the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility


Meeting Date:

May 21, 2009





Darby Fuerst,

General Manager

Program/ Line Item No:

Aquatic Resources/ Fisheries – 2-3-1 F


Prepared By:

Kevan Urquhart

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Approval: N/A

Committee Recommendation:  The Administrative Committee considered this item on May 13, 2009 and recommended approval.

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


SUMMARY:  At their December 16, 2002 meeting, the Board authorized funds for a sole source, design and build contract with List Engineering Company to retrofit the SHSRF raw water intakes to withstand expected increases in sedimentation resulting from the impending annual draw down of water levels in the reservoir formed by San Clemente Dam (SCD).  These annual actions were mandated to enhance the earthquake safety of the dam, by the California Department of Water Resources, Division of Safety of Dams.  Due to the cost of the preferred option identified in the List Engineering report of February 14, 2003, the Board decided at its February 27, 2003 meeting to proceed with only an Interim Retrofit Project, at a lesser cost than the full preferred option.  Since that time, three major events have occurred that could affect the selection of a preferred option to permanently retrofit the SHSRF raw water intakes to make them more reliable, and resistant to sediment entrained into the facility.   First, California American Water (CAW) has completed an EIR/EIS (January 2008) for the buttressing or removal of SCD, which included significant additional analyses of the probable coarse sediment loads that would occur downstream of SCD under either a dam removal/Carmel River channel rerouting option or an option to buttress and retain the dam.  Second, the Basin Complex Fire occurred in the summer of 2008, significantly altering the vegetative cover of approximately 20% of the Carmel River Watershed.  The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, assisted by the U.S. Forest Service, produced two reports analyzing the probable increases in fine sediment loads that could occur annually in the Carmel River, until the vegetation recovers.  Third, CAW has completed its ESA Section 9 settlement with the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the first installment of $3,300,0000 of a total of $10,000,000 has been transferred to the California State Department of Fish and Game (DFG), for them to disburse for Carmel River restoration projects through their annual Fisheries Restoration Grants Program (FRGP) starting in 2010.  Thus, it is appropriate at this time for the District to update the List Engineering report as a basis for applying to the DFG’s FRGP for the funds to permanently retrofit the SHSRF intakes.


RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends that the District Board authorize expenditure of budgeted funds not to exceed $22,000 in Fiscal Year 2008-2009 for a contract with List Engineering Company to review and revise their February 14, 2003 report.  Their revision should be based on the attached list of thirteen factors (Exhibit 2-A) which should be considered in either re-confirming the original preferred option to retrofit the SHSRF raw water intakes, or in selecting a new one.  Staff will proceed with securing a proposal from List Engineering to complete this work if approved.


BACKGROUND:  While the District has existing conceptual plans to upgrade the water intakes to the SHSRF, in the form of the February 14, 2003, List Engineering report, those plans were only to solve coarse sediment or suspended bed load problems that threatened the intake pumps in the coming years, due to the annual draw down of the reservoir formed by San Clemente Dam.  The probable increase in coarse sediment originally anticipated in 2003 was due to the anticipated loss of sediment trapping capacity at San Clemente Reservoir, as the reservoir filled in.  Additionally, coarse sediment loads reaching the SHSRF will worsen under either primary option identified in CAW’s 2008 EIR/EIS for the San Clemente Dam Seismic Safety Project.  Either dam removal or sluicing of accumulated sediments from a buttressed dam will negatively affect the reliability of the SHSRF intakes.  If coarse sediment loads increase as expected, they could lead to the rapid failure of both primary intake pumps in any normal operating season.  The original List Engineering plans also do not address the fine suspended sediments that are expected to be generated in the near term as an aftermath of the Basin Complex Fire, until the watershed re-vegetates and the fire damaged soils stabilize.  Fisheries staff believe that there is a potential for up to an order of magnitude increase in the amount of fine suspended sediment normally observed in SHSRF intake waters in recent winters, which could make operation of the SHSRF untenable during any large storm, and for weeks after most winter storms.  The water could become so murky, with literally zero visibility, that the fish will not be able to feed, and staff will not be able to see them while attempting to net them out of the rearing channel.  This level of suspended sediment also reduces the ability of the fish to breath and so irritates their gills that some will likely try to jump out of the rearing channel.  The suspended sediment load may also be so great as to interfere with staff’s backpack electrofisher, which is the method used on the last pass to capture the remaining fish.  It takes two to three weeks for five-person crews to remove fish from the 800-feet long rearing channel, and yet the pumps could fail at any time under such an extreme sediment load, which could result in a near complete loss of any fish remaining in the rearing channel.


IMPACT TO STAFF/RESOURCES:  Managing this contract and report revision will take a moderate amount of the Senior Fisheries Biologists’ time as project manager.  Funds have also been requested for Fiscal Year 2009-2010 to complete this proposed contract, if all the billable work cannot be completed by June 2009.



2-A      Scope of Work for a Revision of the 2003 List Engineering Report on the “Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility (SHSRF) Sediment Control and Intake Retrofit”.