Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The “Fish in Hot Water” report includes a road map for addressing the threats to California’s native fish, including restoration and protection of critical habitats, such as spring-fed rivers, flood plains and estuaries as well as river system headwaters.
Read the report here: http://www.caltrout.org/sos
On a tree-shaded bend in Dutch Bill Creek at Monte Rio, three technicians from the Sonoma County Water Agency huddled on a gravel bar to examine the day’s catch, all in the name of science and a sustained campaign to restore one of California’s most endangered fish.
Retrieving 163 coho salmon smolts, or young fish, from a wooden fish trap set in knee-deep, clear flowing water, the crew bathed the four- to six-inch salmon in a bucket of Alka-Seltzer solution, briefly numbing them for easier handling.
The technicians measured, weighed and counted the year-old, hatchery-bred fish before releasing them to continue a perilous journey to the nearby Russian River and out to the Pacific Ocean.
If the young coho, swimming mostly by night to evade predators, make it to the ocean and grow to adulthood, they may in about 18 months return to the Russian River and be counted once again before they spawn and die.
There’s a lot riding on the coho completing their short, human-assisted life cycle.Nearly half of California’s native salmon, steelhead and trout — 14 out of 31 species — are facing extinction in 50 years under current conditions, according to a scientific study released last week.
Another nine species are likely to vanish in 100 years unless steps are taken to address threats such as low water flows, pollution, urban growth, dams and degraded habitat, exacerbated by the recent drought and climate change, the 106-page report by the conservation nonprofit California Trout and the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences said.
Read more at: California’s ‘iconic’ native fish facing extinction, with climate change a major cause | The Press Democrat
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Occidental district has been under water board orders since 1997 to quit storing treated wastewater in a pond next to the treatment plant and discharging it into Dutch Bill Creek, a coho salmon spawning stream.
Twenty years of headaches over handling wastewater from the tiny west county community of Occidental appear to be nearing an end with a relatively inexpensive, although admittedly inelegant solution: Truck it down the road for treatment in Guerneville.
After scrapping plans to upgrade the Occidental treatment plant and pipe the effluent to a storage pond on a nearby vineyard at a price tag of up to $6 million, county officials settled instead on a $1.4 million project that depends on existing facilities and a pair of 5,000-gallon water trucks.
“It’s the most economical solution we could find,” said Cordel Stillman, Sonoma County Water Agency deputy chief engineer.
Cost has always been a factor, since the Occidental sanitation district, which serves about 118 parcels clustered along Bohemian Highway, already has the highest rate in the county — and among the highest in the state — at $2,086 a year per equivalent single-family dwelling.
A subsidy of about $400,000 a year from the water agency’s general fund has offset rate hikes, and the bargain-priced project won’t cause any increases, Stillman said.
Under the new plan, the trucks would haul Occidental’s wastewater, which averages 17,000 gallons a day in dry weather and up to 100,000 gallons during rainstorms, from the lift station on the Occidental Camp Meeker Road about nine miles to the Guerneville treatment plant, also operated by the water agency.
As a backup plan, when wastewater volume is high or roads are closed, Occidental’s wastewater would be trucked — in the opposite direction — to another one of the water agency’s eight treatment plants located next to the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.
Both the Guerneville and airport plants provide tertiary treatment of wastewater, the highest level of sewage processing.
Read more at: Occidental eyes inexpensive wastewater treatment plan | The Press Democrat
California Dept of Fish & Wildlife, CDFW NEWS
The Camp Meeker Recreation and Parks District (CMRPD) has begun releasing untreated water from its water treatment facility into Upper Dutch Bill Creek, a tributary to Russian River, for the benefit of summer-rearing coho salmon and steelhead. This is the first voluntary flow augmentation project to be implemented in Dutch Bill Creek and the third to be implemented within the four tributaries subject to the Emergency Regulations for the Protection of Specific Fisheries.
The Voluntary Drought Initiative (VDI) program was initiated jointly by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to address stream flow concerns associated with the California drought. In March of this year, CDFW began asking rural land owners again to sign agreements to voluntarily reduce water demand in four critical watersheds that include Dutch Bill, Green Valley, Mark West and Mill creeks. So far 40 land owners have partnered with CDFW.
In response to increased awareness of the drought crisis, and the imminent threat to coho salmon from low stream flow conditions, several groups have stepped forward to actually contribute water back into streams from their stored sources. The CMRPD effort is unique in that it is diverting water from its supply pipeline in an amount that is immediately benefiting coho salmon.
Since the releases began last month, Dutch Bill Creek is flowing better than it has for the last two months and dissolved oxygen and temperature conditions are expected to keep juvenile coho salmon alive until the winter rains arrive.
CDFW, NMFS and the Goldridge RCD will continue to monitor conditions in the creek to keep enough water following until eventual rains.
Source: Camp Meeker Water District Releasing Water to Save Salmon | CDFW News