Consider Expenditure for Assistance with CoMPLETION OF an Instream Flow Model for the Carmel River


Meeting Date:

May 9, 2016


Yes, partial



David J. Stoldt


Augment Water Supply


General Manager

Line Item No.:

Account No.




Prepared By:

Larry Hampson

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Review: N/A

Committee Recommendation: The Administrative Committee reviewed this item on May 9, 2016 and recommended _____________.

CEQA Compliance: N/A


SUMMARY: Staff proposes an amendment to an existing agreement for services with Normandeau Environmental Consultants (Normandeau) for assistance with completion of an Instream Flow Incremental Methodology (IFIM) study to address water rights issues and steelhead habitat management in the Carmel River. Normandeau would provide assistance to collect environmental data from the Carmel River and to complete a hydraulic model capable of simulating 24 miles of steelhead habitat from Highway 1 to Los Padres Dam. The project would be completed over FY 2015-16 and FY 2016-17.


RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of the expenditure of up to $113,500 for additional assistance with completing an IFIM study to revise instream flow requirements for the Carmel River. If this item is adopted with the Consent Calendar, the FY 2015-16 budget would be amended to show an additional $11,000 in expenditures for this project and the General Manager would be authorized to amend an agreement for services with Normandeau Environmental Services and increase that agreement from a not-to-exceed (NTE) amount of $132,500 to a NTE of up to $246,000. A portion of these funds ($102,500) would be contingent upon Board of Director approval of the FY 2016-17 budget.


IMPACTS TO STAFF/RESOURCES: Funds for a portion of this project were identified in the mid-year FY 2015-16 Budget, Program Line Item 1-8-1, Other Water Supply Projects IFIM feasibility studies. Subsequently, the Board approved additional funds. Staff had anticipated being able to complete all spring work with a combination of approved funding and in-house assistance. However, due to flow conditions, staff will have multiple, overlapping responsibilities that cannot all be completed at the same time. These include obtaining flow measurements and habitat data for the IFIM, carrying out redd surveys and fish rescue in the lower Carmel River, and operating the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing .Facility.


BACKGROUND: The Board initially approved an expenditure of up to $50,000 for IFIM assistance at their June 17, 2013 meeting. At their March 16, 2015 meeting, the Board authorized an additional $50,000 to conduct tests to apply Habitat Suitability Index curves from the Big Sur River to the Carmel River. This latter work was not possible to complete in 2015 due to a lack of spawning adults in the system in the past few years, which has resulted in low densities of young fish in the river[1]. At their March 21, 2016 meeting, the Board authorized an additional $32,500 for Normandeau to collect streamflow measurements for a total Not-to-Exceed amount of $132,500. As of the end of May, approximately $95,500 had been expended, leaving $38,000 in budgeted funds. Below is a table showing the remaining costs to complete the IFIM study.


Table 1 Estimated Costs to Complete the Carmel River IFIM Study


FY 2015-16

FY 2016-17


1-D data and modeling




Habitat Suitability Criteria




2-D data and modeling





$ 48,840

$ 102,500

$ 151,340

Unexpended funds as of May 2016





$ 10,840

$ 102,500

$ 113,340



Work to complete data collection in the lower river for establishing habitat suitability criteria and two-dimensional analysis needs to be completed no later than about mid-June 2016, when the river is expected to dry up or go below the flow threshold that data must be collected at. If flow conditions allow, MPWMD crews may assist with obtaining field data and help to lower the cost of model development.


IFIM is an accepted scientific approach to quantifying the effects to aquatic habitat from water diversions at various levels of instream flows. Results from this work will provide the basis for evaluating water supply options from the Carmel River and revising existing instream flow requirements necessary to protect steelhead and their habitat in the Carmel River. The District, NMFS, CDFW, and California American Water (Cal-Am) are interested in updating these instream flow requirements in order to best manage steelhead populations in the Carmel River.





[1] HSC are an important component of instream flow modeling and are a description of the relative quality of aquatic habitat components, such as water depth, water velocity, substrate type, and instream or overhead cover, on a scale of 0 (not-suitable) to 1 (optimal), to the species of interest (Carmel River steelhead). Developing HSC for a stream can be labor intensive. Thus, using HSC from another stream can save time and cost in the development of an instream flow model. However, sitings of young fish in the Carmel River are required to test HSC curves. Due to the lack of adult returns between 2012 and 2015, the density of young fish in the river was not high enough to collect field data.