2016 Technical Memorandum Regarding the Accounting of San Joaquin River Spring-run Chinook Salmon at the Central Valley Project and State Water Project Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Fish Collection Facilities
Keywords:anadromous fish, ecosystem management, native fish, Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta
USGS Science at Work in the Delta Estuary$0.00 Add to Downloads
USGS Science at Work in the Delta EstuaryUSGS | November 19, 2013...Summary
The San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta form one of the largest estuaries in the United States. The “Bay-Delta” system provides water...
The San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta form one of the largest estuaries in the United States. The “Bay-Delta” system provides water to more than 25 million California residents and vast farmlands, as well as key habitat for birds, fish, and other wildlife. To help ensure the health of this crucial estuary, the U.S. Geological Survey, in close cooperation with partner agencies and organizations, is providing science essential to addressing societal issues associated with water quantity and quality, sediment transportation, environmental contamination, animal health and status, habitat restoration, hazards, ground subsidence, and climate change.
The Twin Tunnels: Ruinous to Ratepayers, Catastrophic for the Environment$0.00 Add to Downloads
The Twin Tunnels: Ruinous to Ratepayers, Catastrophic for the EnvironmentCalifornia Water Impact Network (C-WIN) | January 1, 2014...Summary
Water is California’s most essential resource. It is limited in availability—in some years, extremely limited, forcing devastating delivery cut-backs to cities, farms and...Water is California’s most essential resource. It is limited in availability—in some years, extremely limited, forcing devastating delivery cut-backs to cities, farms and the environment. A recent paper in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment concludes that the average flow in the Sacramento River—the state’s major source for developed surface water—could decrease by 20 percent by 2050 largely due to climate change. By that same year, California’s population is expected to top 50 million, up from the current figure of 38 million. In other words, our water supplies will dwindle as our population burgeons.Meanwhile, the state’s water delivery policies are already demonstrably incapable of providing water to citizens, agriculture and commerce while simultaneously sustaining essential ecosystems. In response, Governor Jerry Brown and his allies in the state legislature and agribusiness are promoting the “Twin Tunnels” boondoggle: a massive conveyance system that will shunt water under the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta to the south state.
San Francisco Bay: A Freshwater Starved Estuary$0.00 Add to Downloads
San Francisco Bay: A Freshwater Starved EstuaryThe Bay Institute | September 1, 2016...Summary
How Reducing Flows Harms the Ecosystems of San Francisco Bay and Coastal Waters The Bay Institute’s major new study, San Francisco Bay: The...How Reducing Flows Harms the Ecosystems of San Francisco Bay and Coastal Waters
The Bay Institute’s major new study, San Francisco Bay: The Freshwater – Starved Estuary, documents how the ecological health of San Francisco Bay and the nearby ocean is at high risk because large-scale water diversion in the Bay’s watershed severely limits the amount of fresh water that reaches the Bay and alters the timing of that flow. Inflow to the Bay from its Central Valley watershed now averages less than half of what it would be without diversions; in some years just one-third of the runoff makes it to the Bay. The result is a nearly permanent drought for the Bay’s fish, wildlife, and their habitats. This radical alteration creates severe consequences for the Bay and marine ecosystems – and Bay Area residents pay the price.
The study shows how unsustainable diversion of the Bay’s freshwater inflow:
Dramatically cuts production of fish and shrimp that are the food source for marine mammals, like Orca Whales, and birds;
Allows pollutants to accumulate to dangerous levels and encourages blooms of toxic algae;
Reduces sediment supply to Bay Area wetlands and beaches;
Makes it easier for undesirable non-native species to successfully invade the Bay Estuary.
The San Francisco Bay Estuary is created by the mixing of fresh water from the Central Valley’s rivers with salt water from the Pacific Ocean. Dramatically reducing the inflow of fresh water generates cascading effects in the Bay’s watershed, the Bay itself, and coastal ocean waters.
The report’s major findings include:
On average, since 1975 more than half (53%) of runoff from the Central Valley watershed has been diverted, stored, or exported before it can reach the Bay – and in many years two-thirds or more of the Bay’s inflow is captured;
As a result of intensive water diversions, the Bay experiences catastrophically dry years almost half the time (only one “supercritically dry” year occurred naturally between 1975-2014, but the Bay experienced nineteen supercritical years during that period);
Numerous unrelated fish species – from sharks to salmon, from sturgeon to smelt – show strong positive correlations with Bay Inflow; many of these species are now endangered, and even commercially viable fisheries are in decline;
Predators that feed on flow-dependent fish and shrimp are feeling the pinch – for example, dwindling supplies of Central Valley Chinook salmon may restrict the recovery of the local Orca whale population;
Blooms of toxic “algae” (cyanobacteria) are becoming more frequent, and other pollutants are becoming more concentrated, as a result of reductions in freshwater flows from the Bay’s watershed;
Bay Area beaches and tidal wetlands are deprived of sediment that was once transported by high river flows.
The study reports that local businesses are likely to suffer from the Bay’s continued decline, including those related to commercial fishing and tourism. As our Bay, beaches, wetlands, and fish and wildlife populations deteriorate, the quality of life for many Bay Area residents will also be severely – and perhaps permanently – damaged.
The study identifies four important approaches to improving Bay inflows:
Update the State’s 21 year old water quality standards for the Bay Estuary to ensure adequate inflow
Require all those who divert water destined for the Bay, not just a subset, to contribute their fair share of fresh water to support benefits enjoyed by all Californians
Invest in local water supplies around the state including conservation, and recycling, that can generate millions of acre-feet of water and reduce reliance on water diverted from the Estuary and its watershed
Coordinate management of flows with wetland and beach restoration to more effectively protect shorelines
The study was prepared for the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, a coalition of resource agencies, non-profits, citizens, and scientists working to protect, restore, and enhance water quality and fish and wildlife habitat in and around the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary, which also provided the majority of funding for the project.
Collateral Damage: A citizen’s guide to fish kills and habitat degradation at the state and federal water project pumps in the Delta$0.00 Add to Downloads
Collateral Damage: A citizen’s guide to fish kills and habitat degradation at the state and federal water project pumps in the DeltaThe Bay Institute | March 1, 2012...Summary
Large-scale fish kills and habitat destruction aren’t an unusual occurrence at the giant federal and state pumps that export water from the Sacramento-San...
Large-scale fish kills and habitat destruction aren’t an unusual occurrence at the giant federal and state pumps that export water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to agribusinesses and cities in the southern half of the state. These events are business as usual.
• Every day, between 870 and 61,000 fish – including from 200 to 42,000 native and endangered fishes – are “salvaged” at the pumps. Most die in the process.
• On average, over 9 million fish – representing the twenty fish species considered in this report – are “salvaged” each year at the pumps. As many as 15 million fish of all species encountered are “salvaged” each year.
• Up to 40% of the total population of the endangered delta smelt and 15% of the endangered winter-run population of Chinook salmon are killed at the pumps in some years. In the first half of 2011, over 8.6 million splittail were salvaged.
• Salvage estimates drastically underestimate the problem. The numbers do not factor in the results of “indirect” mortality, as high levels of export pumping disrupt fish migration, shrink the amount of non-lethal habitat available to fish species, and remove vast amounts of biomass, including fish eggs and larvae too small to be screened at the pumps.
• Export pumping causes the lower San Joaquin River to flow backwards most of the year and removes the equivalent of 170 railroad boxcars of water – and the accompanying fish, other organisms, and nutrients – from the Delta ecosystem every minute.
• Large numbers of fish being entrained is a problem even for species that are not currently listed as “endangered.” Killing large numbers of fish year after year cuts off population growth in response to favorable conditions and can start the species on a downward path to extinction. As the species declines, the population impacts of entrainment become proportionately larger.
• Entrainment is a real problem. But the same interests in the Delta export community who claim that it isn’t also back constructing expensive new conveyance facilities such as a peripheral canal or tunnel to solve the problem that they say doesn’t exist.