The Week’s Newsbytes

Shaping Water Storage in California

There is a new report out from UC Davis and The Nature Conservancy about California’s water supply, titled: “Expanding California’s water supply: You can’t store what isn’t there.”

From cover of new report, “Integrating Storage in California’s Changing Water System“

From cover of new report, “Integrating Storage in California’s Changing Water System“

The study makes the case that water storage shouldn’t be viewed as isolated projects, but rather as part of

larger systems or portfolios of actions. It states that at most CA could utilize 5-6 million acre feet of additional ground and surface water storage capacity, but probably no more than that due to limits in precipitation and the ability to move water through the system.

Click here to read more about the report.




The Week’s Newsbytes

Mono Lake at 20 Symposium – Registration Open

Mono Lake at 20: Past, Present, and Future
November 17, 2014 in Sacramento, California  2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the State Water Resources Control Board’s landmark Decision 1631 to amend the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s water rights in order to protect Mono Lake and its tributary streams.CalTrout has joined the Mono Lake Committee and UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Institute for Water Law and Policy and stakeholders in the Mono Lake cases to convene a symposium to discuss where things stand after 20 years, including: What are the results of implementation of D1631? What does the future hold, especially with the recent Stream Restoration Agreement in hand? What does the decision mean for other California water rights as the State Water Board seeks to determine how best to protect public trust uses of the Delta and Central Valley rivers consistent with maintaining reliable water supplies?

Mono Lake at 20 is bringing together distinguished panelists to distill lessons learned from 20 years of concerted effort to implement the Mono Lake decisions and related efforts elsewhere.

Registration is now open, and space is limited.

This symposium will be a unique opportunity to be a part of the discussions and solutions Mono Lake has to offer for the future. Register now and be part of the solution.

The Week’s Newsbytes

Bridge Creek — Not Your Usual Fish Passage Project

CalTrout and Partners Complete Barrier Removal at Bridge Creek

Along the mainstem of the Eel River about 35 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Bridge Creek drains its watershed into the famous Holmes Hole, a gigantic pool guarded by towering sandstone walls and deep water that annually provides safe haven for thousands of adult salmon and steelhead on their way up river to their natal spawning grounds.

For many decades, those fish have been blocked from migrating into Bridge Creek by the North Western Pacific Railroad crossing, which long ago erected a 45 foot high earthen dam and culvert system through which no adult fish could ever pass.

Now, this barrier is gone.

And, not only is Bridge Creek able to flow freely to the Eel River once again, but the project has revealed a rather unique geologic feature at the creek-river confluence, exhumed after lying buried under railroad fill for decades. Sandstone cliffs, mirroring those at the Holmes pool carved by the Eel River, also rise high along the lower reaches of Bridge Creek. Incredibly, these cliffs were buried by the construction of the railroad, and no one could remember what lay hidden under the mound of dirt.

Bridge Lower Channel 3

Lower channel of Bridge Creek

CalTrout and our partners have completed the construction phase of the Bridge Creek Fish Passage Project. Following several years spent lining up funding and support from the North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA), and another year finalizing construction plans, the project was launched into construction early this summer. Project funding comes from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Restoration Grants Program and the State Coastal Conservancy, with a small share of costs, and tons of determination, coming from our project partners. In addition to our funders, the Bridge Creek project has received unanimous support from the NCRA board, and engineering oversight from the NCRA and National Marine Fisheries Service engineers. From start to finish, the project has been in the capable hands of Pacific Watershed Associates (PWA) and our construction contractor Ryan Rice Construction.

Many technical aspects challenge a project of this scale, such as deconstructing and stockpiling railroad tracks and wooden ties, re-routing the creek and diverting dirty water away from the Eel, and removing trees and vegetation. But the biggest task for this project was simply moving dirt, tons of it. Excavators and dump trucks toiled for more than eleven weeks, removing layers of fill foot-by-foot. In total, more than 55,000 yards of dirt were removed and stockpiled safely along the railroad line. That’s a mere 2,750 truck-loads (more or less) using a gigantic 20-yard off-road dump truck. With the dirt-moving complete, construction crews worked to re-create a natural Bridge Creek stream channel and banks, and a new confluence with the Eel River. Large wood logs and boulders will be placed back on the streambed to armor the bed, along with extensive erosion control measures to minimize winter erosion.

Bridge Creek from mouth of Eel River

Bridge Creek from mouth of Eel River

Now we wait for the fish to arrive.

We would like to acknowledge the invaluable support from private landowners, Jack Rice and his family, as well as the Humboldt Redwood Company, for their willingness to allow this project on their properties.

We will let you know when that first fish arrives in Bridge Creek.

The Week’s Newsbytes

The Week’s Newsbytes

Water Bond is Good for Fish and People

Photo: Don Honus

California Trout along with partner, American Rivers, released a statement in support of Proposition 1, the California water bond, which appears in today’s Sacramento Bee.

Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the Nov. 4 ballot next month, includes important provisions to move our state toward this more sustainable approach to water management. And that’s why California Trout and American Rivers are two of the many environmental organizations urging Californians to vote “yes.”

We are well aware of the controversy regarding the provision that provides $2.7 billion for water storage projects. While we share the concerns…

To read the rest of the opinion click here.  For more information on why the water bond is helpful to the environment and CalTrout’s work, visit

CalTrout Sues Bureau of Reclamation Over Endangered Steelhead Deaths

California Trout, represented by the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), filed a lawsuit on October 6th in federal district court in Los Angeles against the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau). The lawsuit alleges that the Bureau violated the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) by causing the deaths of hundreds of endangered Southern California steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) at Hilton Creek, below the Bradbury Dam and Cachuma Reservoir in Santa Barbara County.

Hilton Creek, which is located directly downstream from Bradbury Dam, is designated by the National Marine Fisheries Service as critical habitat for the endangered steelhead. The Bureau is required, pursuant to the ESA and a Biological Opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2000, to release water into Hilton Creek to ensure adequate flows for the species to migrate, spawn and mature and to ensure that the fish does not fall further into jeopardy of extinction. Water released into Hilton Creek flows directly into the main stem of the Santa Ynez River, providing water for downstream agricultural and other users.

Between March 2013 and June 2014 the Bureau’s water pumps continually failed, causing Hilton Creek to run dry, and leading to the death of at least 393 steelhead.

“The Hilton Creek fish kills are a good illustration of the problems that plague the entire Santa Ynez River watershed,” said Kurt Zimmerman, California Trout’s Southern California Program Manager. “Before the construction of Bradbury Dam, the Santa Ynez River supported the largest single run of steelhead south of San Francisco. The number of adult fish in this watershed will remain negligible or even decline until the Bureau manages the operation of the dam in a manner consistent with the protection and recovery of this important species.”

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