Authorize Expenditure for Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) Tag Reading Equipment to Monitor Juvenile Steelhead Emigration and Eventual Adult Returns


Meeting Date:

August 21, 2017





Dave Stoldt,

General Manager


Line Item No.:

Aquatic Resources/ Fisheries  2-3-1 H


Prepared By:

Kevan Urquhart

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Approval: N/A

Committee Recommendation:  The Administrative Committee reviewed this item on August 14, 2017 and recommended approval.

CEQA Compliance:  This action does not constitute a project as defined by the California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines Section 15378.


SUMMARY: The District has been cooperating with the National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Fisheries Science Center (NMFS-SWFSC) since 2013 to tag larger juvenile steelhead with half-duplex (HDX) Passive Integrated Transponder tags (PIT-tags).  Tags are placed in steelhead released from the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility (SHSRF), and in larger ones collected during our fall population monitoring.  The goal is to see if there are any differences in out-migration, survival, and adult return rates of SHSRF-reared fish versus fish reared in the river.  These studies will become part of the monitoring component of our impending Endangered Species Act. Section 10a(1)(a) permit for fish recues and rearing.


The Fisheries Program staff have been using a hand held scanner to resample any fish collected in each succeeding year’s fish rescue efforts. NMFS-SWFSC also installed a tag-reading antennae array of standard design at the Carmel Area Wastewater Districts intake pipe in 2015, and tried a newer second experimental design installation near San Carlos Well early last winter 2016. The latter got blown out very quickly by peak winter storms.  Neither of the two NMFS-SWFSC antennae arrays have yet detected very many juvenile fish, and no adults.  NMFS-SWFSC has not expanded the number of their PIT antennae arrays as quickly as initially expected.  


The District’s Fisheries Program needs to add at least two more antennae arrays upstream in shallower water, where we are more likely to detect fish, in order to supplement the existing NMFS-SWFSC sites. We have chosen to place them at the Cal-Am Scarlette Well site and the new Sleepy Hollow Ford Bridge.  A copy of the on-line order form for OregonRFID supplies is attached as Exhibit 5-A ($7435.35 + $61.66 shipping). 


OregonRFID intends to produce a new tag antennae array controller that can read both HDX and full-duplex (FDX) tags very soon.  If that antennae controller design becomes available later in 2017, we’ll likely purchase one instead of a second HDX-only device.  If OregonRFID does not produce its new device in 2017, the Fisheries Program may order an additional, more expensive HDX+FDX array from another vendor later this year for approximately $25,000, but is delaying that purchase and installation until NMFS-SWFSC staff can finalize an installation design and component pricing with the vendor. The FDX tags have slightly better detection range, so fish tagged with them in future years may be more readily detectable.  However, all fish released to date have been tagged with HDX tags, and NMFS-SWFSC has a few thousand of those left to use for tagging in 2017.  Thus, a HDX array is primarily all that is needed for the next 3 years, and is much cheaper and a bit easier to install.  Local NMFS-SWFSC staff also have a lot of experience with OregonRFID’s HDX arrays, and can guide Fisheries Program staff in installing one, whereas they are still learning to use other vendor’s FDX arrays elsewhere in California, and we will have to tap that expertise in the future.


RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends that the District Board authorize an expenditure not-to-exceed $8,500, to cover the estimated costs of installing the District’s first PIT tag antennae array, and buying a second portable tag reader for the SHSRF, to supplement the one used by the Fish Rescue and Population Survey crews.  The Administrative Committee reviewed this item at its August 14, 2017 meeting and voted 2 to 0 to recommend approval of the expenditure.


IMPACT TO STAFF/RESOURCES:  The Fiscal Year 20017-2018 Budget includes $65,000 for pilot studies to develop new monitoring methods steelhead related to our impending NMFS permit.  The actual cost of this first of two additional arrays will be less than that amount.



5-A      Draft OregonRFID Internet Order Form and Price List