News Worth Noting: Threatened fish get new home on the lower American River; Public comment period opens on Prop 1 Water Storage Investment Program regulations; Comments requested on DISB’s report on Delta levee hazards

American River gravelThreatened fish get new home on the lower American River

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

ReclamationThe loud beeps and heavy rumbles of construction equipment are echoing again across the lower American River, this time at a big bend 4 miles downstream of Nimbus Dam called Sacramento Bar. Here, gravel, sand and river rocks of various sizes are excavated, sorted and washed. Fallen trees and bushes are being dug up or brought in for insertion into side channels yet to be completed.

It’s all part of a federally-backed program designed to increase the availability of spawning gravel and rearing habitat for threatened salmonids, namely Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

“Our dams serve many useful purposes but they also block natural sediment supply and natural river flows,” says Bureau of Reclamation fish biologist and project manager, John Hannon. “Without the unimpeded ‘flushing’ type of river flows, habitat complexity declines making it more difficult for fish to spawn and rear. So, we need to re-establish or recreate suitable habitat for migrating fish.gravel 2

Reclamation dam operators can manipulate a river’s flushing flows but with constant erosion and ensuing limited habitat, most fish migrating up the American River eventually dead-end at Nimbus Dam or the Nimbus Fish Hatchery.

“Since 2008, we’ve restored seven spawning and rearing habitat sites below Nimbus Dam,” says Hannon who manages similar work in the Sacramento and Stanislaus rivers. “We’ve identified another eight sites and we’re starting with Sacramento Bar, with the goal of addressing the others one site per year.”

Hannon has seen successful adaptation of the new habitat firsthand. “We know the fish are using the sites from spawning surveys conducted from the air and ground, and by swimming with masks and snorkels,” he said. If it sounds like a big job and a lot of work for one person—it is.

“It’s truly a collaborative effort. With a big help from the local American River partnering agencies and support of the community,” said Hannon. “Without them and all of us working together to help save the fish, these projects—this program—doesn’t work.”

The salmonid restoration program is managed by Reclamation, in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Sacramento Water Forum, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Sacramento County Regional Parks. It’s a result of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992, multipurpose legislation intended to offset impacts from the construction and operation of Reclamation’s massive California water delivery system—the Central Valley Project.

California Water Commission Seeks Public Comment on Proposition 1 Water Storage Investment Program Regulations

california water commissionFrom the California Water Commission:

The California Water Commission, responsible for allocating $2.7 billion in voter-approved bond funds for new water storage projects, seeks public comment on an update of its draft regulations and additional documents related to the Water Storage Investment Program.

The public comment period will extend until 5 p.m. on October 3, 2016.  Additionally, written and oral comments will be accepted at a public meeting on September 16 in Sacramento.

Voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1 in November 2014.  The $7.5 billion water bond includes $2.7 billion to pay for the public benefits of additional storage projects.  The draft regulations now available for public comment generally describe what is required of project applicants and how the Water Commission will quantify and compare the public benefits of proposed projects.  Proposition 1 defines public benefits as ecosystem improvements, water quality improvements, flood control benefits, emergency response, and recreational purposes.

The text of the revised draft regulation, related documents, and information about the public comment period can be found on the Commission’s website at: Https://cwc.ca.gov/Pages/QuantificationRulemaking.aspx

An agenda for the September 16 public meeting in Sacramento will be posted at least 10 days before the meeting.

The California Water Commission, nine appointees of the Governor, is charged with advising the director of the California Department of Water Resources, approving rules and regulations, and furthering development of state policies that support integrated and sustainable water resources management.

Comments requested on Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB) Draft Report: Delta Earthquakes and High Water as Levee Hazards in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

From the Delta Stewardship Council:

This draft report is based on a one-day science workshop about Delta levees that took place on July 14, 2016 as part of a meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB). This subsequent draft report describes the scope of that workshop, gives the Delta ISB’s understanding of the information presented, and offers perspectives about future research related to earthquakes and high water as hazards for Delta levees.

The Delta Reform Act of 2009 instructs the Delta ISB to “provide oversight of the scientific research, monitoring, and assessment programs that support adaptive management of the Delta through periodic reviews of each of those programs….”(§ 85280 (a)(3)). The workshop, and the report, fall under this mandate.

To view the draft report, please click here.

To comment on this draft report, please click here.

Comments will be accepted through Sept. 22, 2016.

Those comments received by this date will be considered in preparing the final version of the report.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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