Meeting Date:

October 16, 2006





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 September 2006, Carmel River streamflow conditions were fair to critical for juvenile steelhead rearing and poor to critical for downstream migration, with scattered, isolated pools below Cal-Am’s Pearce Well (RM 5.68), and mostly dry conditions downstream of Valley Greens Road Bridge (RM 4.8). 


During September 2006, the mean daily streamflow recorded at the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s (District’s) Carmel River Sleepy Hollow Weir gaging station averaged 10.5 cubic feet per second (cfs), and ranged from 8.8 to 12.0 cfs.


There were 0.00 inches of measurable rainfall in September as recorded by Cal-Am at San Clemente Dam (SCD), compared to the long-term September average of 0.16 inches at this site.  The rainfall total for Water Year 2006 to date is 28.03 inches, 131% of the long-term October-September average of 21.33 inches.


CARMEL RIVER LAGOON:  In mid-June 2006, a sand berm was constructed across the mouth of the lagoon by State Parks, Monterey Peninsula Engineering, the Carmel River Watershed Conservancy, the Carmel River Steelhead Association, and the District, in order to raise the water surface elevation (WSE) of the lagoon for the summer and help the juvenile steelhead residing there to survive.  The WSE was raised from approximately three-feet to eight-feet and held relatively steady above the six-foot level through the end of June. 


In early July, as inflow reached ~20 cfs, the lagoon was closed by bulldozing sand across the mouth, and the WSE rose to 7.5 feet.  As the river inflow tapered off, the lagoon’s WSE slowly dropped to 6.0 feet.  By the end of August, the WSE had dropped to approximately 3.8 feet.


In mid-September, the Carmel Area Wastewater District (CAWD) released approximately 1.73 acre feet (AF) of tertiary treated recycled water from their treatment plant, into the riparian zone near the top end of the lagoon, raising the lagoon’s WSE  to approximately 4.6 feet from a low of 3.5 feet earlier in the month as shown below.  Between September 28 and October 5, 2006, an additional 4.19 AF of water was released into the riparian zone south of the plant.



WSE at the Carmel River Lagoon, September 2006


JUVENILE STEELHEAD RESCUES:  Staff started fish rescues on July 17, 2006, when river flows dropped to approximately 10 cfs at the Highway One Bridge.  By the end of September, rescues had been completed between Highway 1 and California American Water’s Pearce Well (RM 5.68). Approximately 16,375 juvenile steelhead were captured and moved to the Sleepy Hollow Facility, including approximately 14,932 young-of-the-year (YOY) fish and 1,401 large juveniles (1+ year olds).  Rescue mortalities were very low at 0.2% (39 fish).  Staff will continue to monitor the river front in case further rescues are needed.


SLEEPY HOLLOW STEELHEAD REARING FACILITY (SHSRF or Facility):  The Facility was fully operational by the end of June 2006.  The first batch of rescued fish was placed in the Facility’s quarantine tanks on July 17, 2006.  As of September 30, 2006, 13,409 fish had been stocked in the rearing channel, including 11,480 young-of-the-year (YOY) fish, 1,223 intermediate size YOY and older juveniles, and 706 large juveniles (1+ year olds).  Each size class was placed in a separate section of the channel.  Overall survival in the rearing channel at the end of the month was 68% and ranged from 95 to 45% in the nine bays.  An additional 2,880 fish are currently being held in the quarantine tanks, for a total of 16,289 fish stocked at the Facility.  Approximately 179 fish (1.1%) died while in quarantine since July 17, 2006.


The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) pathologist paid a second visit to the Facility in early September and diagnosed a moderately-high level Flavobacterium outbreak and a mild Ich ciliate outbreak in some reaches of the channel.   The CDFG pathologist recommended keeping as many fish in the quarantine tanks as possible (to avoid subjecting them to the infected fish in the channel) and treating the fish already in the channel with a salt bath, hydrogen peroxide, or potassium permanganate. 


On September 15, after consulting with CDFG and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), District staff decided to do a trial salt treatment in the lower half of the Rearing Channel.   Approximately 1,900 gallons of brine was made up in two quarantine tanks using 833 lbs of salt, and pumped in to the channel over a 20-minute period.  The goal was to have a 2% solution of saline water (2/3 the strength of seawater) pass down the Rearing Channel as a pulse of brackish water.  Actual concentrations measured during the event never actually exceeded 1.5%, and tended to maintain about 1.2% for a period of time before diluting down to much lower levels.  There appeared to be some slight reductions in mortality as a result of the treatment, but the data has not yet been statistically analyzed.  Staff hopes to try one more experimental treatment in the next two weeks, as time allows.


Fisheries staff visited the CDFG’s, Warm Springs Hatchery (WSH) near Healdsburg, in Sonoma County in late September, to discuss hatchery operations and captive broodstock programs for steelhead.  The WSH has a new experimental Coho Captive Broodstock Program running to restore Coho to the Russian River’s tributaries.  NOAA Fisheries wants the District to develop an emergency captive broodstock plan for the Facility as part of the Rescue & Rearing Management Plan currently under development to comply with Section 10 of the ESA.  The plan would be used to immediately implement a steelhead broodstock program for the Carmel River in case of a multi-year drought. 


District staff also received advice on management of Facility operations to improve steelhead survival.  The CDFG staff concurred that the two primary challenges facing rearing success at the Facility are incoming water temperature and sediment load (sand, fine particles and algae).  WSH filters and treats its raw-water inflow with ultraviolet light, and can also chill it when necessary.  Without further addressing these issues, improved survival is not likely to be achieved at SHSRF.