NEWS WORTH NOTING: Feather River smolt release to help biologists study salmon life cycle; Carlsbad Desalination Plant updated permit approved by San Diego Water Board

Feather River Smolt Release to Help Biologists Study Salmon Life Cycle

From the Department of Fish and Wildlife:

On May 8, CDFW released about 1 million fall run Chinook Salmon smolts into the Feather River at the Boyd’s Pump Launch facility. This experimental in-river release will provide fisheries biologists an important opportunity to study how fish respond under specific environmental conditions, as compared to fish released at other points in the river system.

Anglers have expressed concern that striped bass predation is high during this time period on the Feather River. While predation is always a threat to the young salmon, it is only one of the challenges they face throughout their complicated life cycle. The good news is that current high river flows favor increased downriver salmon survival.

“It’s critical that a portion of the population survives the treacherous journey downriver, eventually returning to pass their genes to their offspring,” said Jay Rowan, CDFW supervising fisheries biologist. “The traits those survivors pass on will help the species adapt to current conditions and better prepare them for long-term challenges such as climate change.”

Central Valley rivers like the Sacramento, Feather, American and Mokelumne have been modified through the addition of dams, river channelization and flow control. To maximize returns and allow for naturally occurring genetic variation, hatcheries in each river system have begun to utilize a variety of release strategies including trucking a portion of the fish downstream, utilizing ocean net pens and varying release sites to improve overall salmon resiliency and survival.

More than 30 million Chinook Salmon smolts are released from hatcheries throughout California’s Central Valley each year. This upcoming release of 1 million smolts on the Feather River is only one of almost 100 different releases taking place this spring up and down Central Valley rivers, San Pablo Bay, San Francisco Bay and into coastal net pens. Each release has a different intent and goals for contributions to ocean and inland fisheries, returns to the river and returns to the hatchery.

Feather River Hatchery alone will release 7 million fall run Chinook Salmon in 2019. In addition to the 1 million that will be released this week, another million will be trucked to Fort Baker in the San Francisco Bay and 5 million will be trucked to acclimation net pens in the San Pablo Bay.

Survival prospects for all releases are very good. This year’s large snow pack and high river flows are a far cry from the drought years with low clear water conditions that foster higher levels of predation, disease and other stressors. Survival out of the system should contribute to improved harvest opportunities in the near future.

Last month, CDFW released 600 spring run Chinook Salmon smolts into the Feather River. The fish were implanted with acoustic tags before their release, and preliminary data indicates that this group is showing a significantly higher survival rate as they travel downriver than fish that were released during low water years.

Carlsbad Desalination Plant Updated Permit Approved by San Diego Water Board

State Standard Assures More Protection for Fish and Marine Life

From the San Diego Regional Water Board:

The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board today renewed a permit governing discharges from the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant into the Pacific Ocean that includes structural and operational changes to provide greater protection for marine life and water quality.

The Board’s action authorizes the facility’s owner, Poseidon Water, to construct a stand-alone pumping station to draw its seawater and build a new intake structure with smaller screens to reduce the number of fish sucked into the plant. The permit also establishes more stringent brine discharge guidelines to minimize the toxic impact on bottom-dwelling marine life and requires Poseidon to offset potential harm by creating 68.3 acres of wetlands in south San Diego Bay

“Desalinated water, as regulated by the permit for Poseidon, is an important component of our overall water supply portfolio,” said San Diego Water Board chair Henry Abarbanel.

The updates are expected to increase the facility’s drinking water production from 54 to 60 million gallons per day, a significant boost in light of the region’s arid climate and inevitability of droughts. The renewed permit supports the use of ocean water as a reliable supplement to traditional water supplies and features a number of environmental protections adopted by the State Water Board in its Desalination Amendment in May 2015. California is a world leader in desalination permitting and environmental protection.

Located 30 miles north of San Diego on the shores of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, the Carlsbad plant is the largest and most technologically advanced seawater desalination project in the Western Hemisphere. The project relies on reverse osmosis, a filtering process that separates salt from seawater and eliminates impurities such as bacteria and viruses. Approximately 100 million gallons per day of ocean water from the adjacent lagoon enters the plant through a 72-inch pipe, then cycles through a multi-layer tank that uses sand, gravel and anthracite to remove algae and other large impurities. Then, a reverse osmosis cycle removes the salt. Once the filtering is complete, the potable water is disinfected with chlorine and pumped to retailers throughout the county. The brine that remains is diluted with seawater and returned to the ocean.

“In approving the permit,” Abarbanel said, “the Board balanced the environmental impacts and costs of source water intake and brine disposal for the next several decades with the many beneficial uses of the Pacific Ocean and Aqua Hedionda Lagoon.”

Poseidon sells its product to the San Diego County Water Authority, which supplies 10 percent of the county’s drinkable water.

While Carlsbad is one of 12 existing desalination plants in California – a state that more heavily relies on conservation, recycling, stormwater capture and groundwater recharge for its water supply – ocean filtration systems operate in more than 120 countries and are considered a vital water source alternative in many regions, particularly the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

Israel’s extensive and effective use of desalination to counter chronic drought conditions is frequently cited as a success story, and in fact, the company contracted by Poseidon to operate the Carlsbad plant is the Israel-based Desalination Enterprises. Desalination programs currently provide more than 50 percent of water for Israeli households, agriculture and industrial use, with some projecting the percentage to reach 70 percent by 2050.

To learn more about desalination issues, visit the State Water Resources Control Board’s website here.


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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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