Restoration Programs Advance
San Joaquin River Restoration Program
The San Joaquin River Restoration Program is a comprehensive, long-term effort to restore and maintain flows from the main stem of the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River in Central California, in order to create naturally reproducing and self-sustaining populations of salmon and other fish in the river while reducing or avoiding adverse water supply impacts from restoration flows.
Federal participation in the program is mandated under the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.
The San Joaquin River, just below Sack Dam
Significant activities accomplished throughout 2013 kept momentum moving forward across many program areas that all contributed towards achieving the long-term goals. Information continued to be collected on major constraints to fish reintroduction in the river channel and on what actions need to be implemented prior to and during reintroduction of salmon.
Water Management Goal Accomplishments
Key accomplishments towards achieving the Water Management Goal include the following:
- Recaptured and recirculated about 68,000 acre-feet of interim flows by November 2013, with that figure expected to increase to 107,000 acre-feet by the end of the water contract year, which runs from March 2013 through February 2014.
- Awarded $12.5 million in financial assistance under Part III of the Settlement Act to cost-share four groundwater banking projects in the San Joaquin Valley.
- Completed the Draft and Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Recirculation of Recaptured Water Year 2013-2017 SJRRP Flows.
- Completed the Draft and Final EA and FONSI for a Temporary One-year Transfer and Exchange of Recaptured SJRRP Flows From Madera Irrigation District and Chowchilla Water District to Red Top.
Restoration Goal Accomplishments
Key accomplishments towards achieving the Restoration Goal include the following:
- Trapped and transported more than 300 fall-run Chinook salmon above the Merced River confluence to spawning areas just below Friant Dam as part of the second Trap and Transport Study from October through December.
- Finalized the 2014 Monitoring and Analysis Plan.
- Began the Program’s spring-run Chinook salmon broodstock efforts.
- Completed the Endangered Species Act 10(j) and 4(d) rule process.
- Completed modifications to Reclamation’s water rights at Friant Dam to implement the SJRRP on a long-term basis.
- Completed an EA, FONSI, and Financial Assistance Agreement for Operations and Maintenance Funding for the Interim San Joaquin Salmon Conservation and Research Facility.
- Completed the Salmon Conservation and Research Facility Permanent Flow Delivery Appraisal Study.
- Completed a Final EA/Initial Study and Signed the FONSI for the Arroyo Canal Fish Screen and Sack Dam Fish Passage Project.
- Completed the Draft Channel Capacity Report for the 2014 Restoration Year.
- Completed the Final Riparian Habitat Mapping, Monitoring, and Mitigation Plan - Technical Implementation and Planning Approach Report.
Flows Implementation Accomplishments
The fourth and final year of interim flows began on October 1, 2012, and concluded on December 31, 2013. Data collection continued, including water temperature, groundwater levels, sediment, water quality, dissolved oxygen and biological studies. Seepage management activities to support interim flows continued, including working with landowners to resolve seepage issues through easements or projects on their properties, as well as monitoring of shallow groundwater wells to address seepage concerns and expanding of the groundwater monitoring network on public and private property to better understand changes in shallow groundwater conditions. Key flow implementation accomplishments include the following:
- Completed the Restoration Flow Guidelines on the Settlement schedule in preparation for Restoration Flows, which are scheduled to begin on January 1, 2014.
- Completed three of eight flowage easements needed to allow flows below Sack Dam and reconnect the river once again.
- Updated the Seepage Management Plan with thresholds based on groundwater levels without flow in the river.
- Completed the spring and fall pulse releases.
Other key program documents released include the Final Fiscal Year 2013 Annual Work Plan and the Draft and Final Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Work Plan.
During 2014, the program will work to accomplish the following key activities:
- Resolve priority seepage impediments to reconnect the river and allow for up to 300 cfs in the river past Sack Dam.
- Release spring-run Chinook salmon in spring 2014.
- Continue monitoring of the shallow groundwater and working with landowners to address potential seepage concerns.
- Release the Draft EIS for the Mendota Pool Bypass and Reach 2B Channel Improvements Project for public comment, a project that will significantly improve the ability to move water through the river system and provide fish habitat.
- Continue conducting study activities, including trap and transport of fall-run Chinook salmon, as part of the monitoring and analysis required to address areas where more information is needed in order to make the best decisions for the successful habitat restoration and reintroduction of fish to the river.
- Begin construction actions for the Friant-Kern Canal Capacity Restoration Project.
- Begin Restoration Flows on January 1, 2014.
Looking Further Ahead
Key events in the following year will continue to mark significant program accomplishments. The last year of experimental, or interim, flows ended in 2013, and restoration flows begin January 2014. With obtaining flowage easements, once again, the river will be reconnected for the entire 153 mile stretch of the restoration area, and spring-run Chinook salmon will be released into the river in the spring.
The program will continue shallow groundwater monitoring and working with landowners to address potential seepage concerns related to restoration flows. As data is obtained, the program will account for subsidence, as necessary, for major projects. The Friant-Kern Canal Capacity Restoration Project is anticipated to be the first project to begin construction. One major channel improvement project will release draft environmental documents for public comment and could start construction in 2016/2017.
Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project
During 2013, the Region advanced the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project, which is among the largest cold-water anadromous fish restoration projects in North America.
The project is an effort to increase threatened and endangered Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead trout populations by restoring about 48 miles of habitat -- 42 miles in Battle Creek and another six miles in its tributaries -- while maintaining renewable energy production at the Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project, owned and operated by the Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
Restoration was begun in 2010 and is scheduled for completion in 2016. It is being accomplished in three phases, primarily through the removal of five diversion dams, placement of screens and ladders on three other diversion dams, and increasing stream flows, all within Tehama and Shasta counties in northern California.
With the removal of Wildcat Diversion Dam in 2010, about 15 miles of stream habitat was restored for Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead trout. The majority of fish screen and ladder construction was completed on the North Battle Creek Feeder and Eagle Canyon Diversion Dams in 2011; a contract to complete the NBCF access road (including cut-slope stabilization) was awarded in July 2013, and implementation of civil, mechanical and electrical design changes is expected to begin in Fiscal Year 2014. Upon full completion of the work at the NBCF and Eagle Canyon Diversion Dams sites in 2015, an additional nine miles of stream habitat will be restored.
In January 2013, a contract was awarded to construct a fish barrier weir and maintain a minimum flow of 5 cubic feet per second in Baldwin Creek near Asbury diversion, downstream of the Darrah Springs State Trout Hatchery. The 5 cfs will allow for suitable salmon and steelhead habitat, while the barrier will prevent these fish, which could carry viruses, from infecting the trout hatchery. This construction will restore an additional mile of habitat. Upon completion of Phase 1A, 25 miles of stream habitat will have been restored.
Construction of the Inskip Powerhouse discharge outlet and a 5,600-foot bypass to Coleman Canal on the South Fork of Battle Creek (to prevent mixing of north and south fork waters) was completed in January 2013. Several improvements were performed by Reclamation construction crews in 2013, including access road drainage improvements and removal of sediment at the upper jump basin and within the canal. Safety and facility access improvements are planned for completion in 2014.
Data collection, as well as design and compliance efforts, occurred in 2013 for this final project phase, which involves the installation of a fish screen and ladder on Inskip Diversion Dam, installation of a South Powerhouse discharge outlet connector, and removal of Lower Ripley Creek Feeder, Soap Creek Feeder, and Coleman and South Diversion dams. Phase 2 construction is scheduled to occur from 2015 to 2016. Upon completion of Phase 2, 23 more miles of stream habitat will have been restored.
Via a Memorandum of Understanding, signed in June 1999, Reclamation, the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and PG&E initiated work on the project. In addition to the MOU partners, the project has been developed in collaboration with various resource agencies, including the California Wildlife Conservation Board, with participation from the public, stakeholders, and landowners (including the Greater Battle Creek Watershed Working Group and the Battle Creek Watershed Conservancy).
The project is being supported with federal, state and private funding. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, and the Iron Mountain Mine Trustee Council are contributing federal funds; the DFW, the WCB, the California Department of Transportation and the California Department of Water Resources are contributing state funds; and the Packard Foundation (via The Nature Conservancy) is contributing private funds. PG&E is contributing to the project in the form of foregone energy generation, voluntarily pursuing amendments to the Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project’s federal energy generation license, and transferring certain water rights to the DFW.
|A tractor and crew work on the Coleman Diversion Dam||A contractor pours concrete for a fish barrier wall placement at the Baldwin Creek Fish Barrier||Workers use “super sacks” to build a diversion dam in Baldwin Creek|
Trinity River Restoration Project
|Material is placed in the Trinity River to improve fish spawning habitat||Changes in the Trinity River to improve fish habitat include creating an island and placement of boulders|
The Region’s Trinity River Restoration Program is a long-term, comprehensive effort to restore fish and wildlife populations in and along the Trinity River, below dams that are part of California’s Central Valley Project.
|Changes in the Trinity River to improve fish habitat include creating an island and placement of boulders|
The restoration program includes flow management, channel rehabilitation, sediment control and watershed restoration. The results are monitored and assessed to incorporate experience into future restoration efforts through adaptive management.
The program differs from many other restoration programs in that it employs a riverine approach intended to create a dynamic river capable of building and maintaining anadromous fish habitat system-wide. The program’s goals are to create sufficient suitable habitat through achievement of healthy river attributes to maintain fish populations and to predict, measure and evaluate progress toward meeting long-term fishery and habitat goals that also influence short-term management actions.
Restoration of the river, below Trinity and Lewiston dams, is an important aspect of meeting requirements of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act for fish and wildlife protection and mitigation as the CVP meets its water supply responsibilities.
Since the signing of the TRRP Record of Decision in 2000, the restoration program has finished Phase 1 of the channel rehabilitation component of the ROD.
During 2013, the program completed two channel rehabilitation sites, Douglas City and Lorenz Gulch. To date, the program has completed 30 of the originally proposed 47 rehabilitation sites within the 40-mile restoration zone.
At the Lower Douglas City site downstream of the Highway 299 bridge at Douglas City, Reclamation, and program partners created a split flow channel and island, enhanced an existing gravel bar with large wood, placed boulders to create fish holding habitat, and enabled the Weaverville Community Service District to replace an infiltration gallery to increase withdrawals from the mainstem of the Trinity River. The infiltration gallery reduces withdrawals from the Weaver Creek tributary, important habitat for threatened coho salmon. The project was constructed on private, municipal and state property in cooperation with three local landowners, the CSD and the California Department of Transportation.
More extensive construction took place at the Lorenz Gulch site under oversight of the TRRP partner, the Yurok Tribal Fisheries Department, and in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management. Construction of an in-river island, a side-channel, large wood-and-boulder habitat placements, and extensive native plant revegetation were coordinated to accommodate planned improvements to the BLM recreation area, including improved river access, parking, sanitation and camping.
In 2013, the TRRP also:
- Initiated new variable spring restoration flows that benefitted the increased numbers of juvenile fish emerging as a result of the 2012 record adult returns, and aided riparian seed dispersal, germination, and survival.
- Developed and incorporated quantifiable habitat metrics into multi-criteria decision analysis to select final rehabilitation project designs.
- Conducted five cooperative watershed projects, keeping 15,500 cubic yards of fine sediment from entering the Trinity River. Fine sediment blankets on spawning beds can smother developing fish eggs.
- Carried out monitoring and assessment of factors such as smolt migration and adult return timing, adult spawning escapement, and sport and tribal harvest to calculate fish population numbers; sediment transport; system-wide habitat assessment; and system-wide bird abundance.
Central Valley Project Improvement Act
The Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992 amended previous authorizations of the CVP to include fish and wildlife protection, restoration, and mitigation as project purposes having equal priority with irrigation and domestic uses; and fish and wildlife enhancement as a project purpose equal to power generation.
From 1993 through 2013, Reclamation and its partners have completed several large projects, including the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District fish screen, the Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District fish screen, the Shasta Lake Temperature Control Device, the Contra Costa Canal pumping plant, the Coleman National Fish Hatchery, and the Red Bluff Fish Passage Improvement Project. Mid-Pacific Region implementation of the CVPIA is currently comprised of more than 20 programs and projects that fall into broad resource areas, including fish, refuge water supply, habitat restoration, and ecosystem and water operations modeling. Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service jointly implement the CVPIA.
Fish Resource Area
The goal for the Fish Resource Area is to double the natural production of anadromous fish in the Central Valley on a sustainable, long-term, basis. In addition to reservoir releases, Reclamation and Service restoration accomplishments in 2013 in the Sacramento Basin include:
- American River spawning and side channel habitat improvements with the addition of 6,000 cubic yards of gravel.
- Antelope Creek Crossing Repair Project at the Tehama Wildlife Area completion of the riparian planting requirements.
- Battle Creek removal of the Wildcat Dam and Canal and a new fish screen and bypass at Eagle Canyon Dam.
- Cow Creek completion of designs for the Clover Creek Fish Passage/Millville Diversion Dam Restoration Project.
- Deer Creek completion of field site surveys for the Lower Deer Creek Fall Fish Passage Improvement Project (Phase 1).
- Mill Creek completion of alternatives for the fish passage at the two diversion dams and exposed siphon.
- Sacramento River accomplishments included redd stranding surveys and a project to modify diversions by Sacramento River Settlement Contractors to reduce redd dewatering; completion of fish screens including: the Natomas Mutual Sankey Fish Screen and removal of the Natomas Cross Canal fish migration barrier, completion of four screens at River Garden Farms #3, screens at Townsite, Alamo Farms #1, Tisdale Irrigation District #2, Cranmore Farms #2, and Joe Sanhes Farms in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; and 14,000 tons of gravel placement below Keswick Dam.
- Yuba River planting of five acres to restore riparian habitat on Hammon Bar.
Reclamation and Service restoration accomplishments in the San Joaquin Basin during 2013 include:
- Calaveras River completion on the Caprini Low Flow Crossing Fish Passage Project to restore access to six miles of habitat.
- Consumnes River final designs to re-connect three historic tidal sloughs and restore 85 acres of floodplain habitat in the Delta.
- Merced River completion of designs and permitting for the Merced River Floodplain and Channel Restoration Project at Snelling, Calif.
- Mokelumne River coordination for experiments on pulse flow releases and operation of the Delta Cross Channel Gates.
- Stanislaus River planning and design alternatives for the Knights Ferry Floodplain Restoration Project and the Buttonbush Floodplain Restoration Project.
The Fish Resource Area includes a number of actions to assess and monitor the performance of restoration efforts and plan for undertaking the most effective future actions. The Fish Resource area made substantial investments in establishing a structured decision making framework for planning future fish restoration actions.
CVPIA funding related to the Fish Resource Area includes financial support for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program and the Trinity River Restoration Program.
Refuge Water Supply Resource Area
The goal of the Refuge Water Supply Resource Area is to provide water supply for optimal habitat management to 19 federal, state and private wildlife refuges. Water supplies are categorized as Level 2 (average historical deliveries obtained from project yield) and Incremental Level 4 (additional water required for optimum habitat obtained without involuntarily reallocations of project yeild). The Region was able to achieve the following deliveries through the Refuge Water Conveyance Component of the program during Fiscal Year 2013:
The Refuge Conveyance Program delivered 389,343 acre-feet of Level 2 water supplies, representing 92 percent the targeted 422,251 AF.
- The Refuge Water Acquisition Program acquired and delivered 48,096 AF of Incremental Level 4 water supplies to north and south of Delta refuges, after accounting for conveyance losses representing 36 percent of the targeted 133,264 AF.
- The Refuge Facility Construction Program contracted for ongoing repairs to the East Bear Pumping Plant, modified Gray Lodge and Pixley groundwater wells, contracted for feasibility studies for the Sutter Natinoal Wildlife Refuge, and completed the final design for the Biggs-West Gridley Water District Facilities for deliveries to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.
- The amount of water the Region can deliver to wildlife refuges depends on several factors, including the availability of water and ability of Reclamation to deliver water to certain refuges.
Habitat Restoration Program
The Habitat Restoration Program’s goals are to protect and restore terrestrial habitat and the species that depend on them.
The Habitat Restoration Program contributed to the protection of 1,030 acres of land through fee title acquisition of:
- 76 acres of vernal pools habitat in Butte County.
- 927 acres of grassland habitat in Fresno County.
- 27 acres of scrub-shrub habitat in Tulare County.
Of the acquired lands, 954 acres support the mitigation requirements for the State Water Resources Control Board.
Modeling Resource Area
The goal of the Ecosystem and Water Systems Operations Models Program is to develop broadly available and readily usable models and supporting data to evaluate the ecologic and hydrologic effects of existing and alternative operations of public and private water facilities and systems in the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Trinity River watersheds. Accomplishments include: Modifications and improvements to the CalSim II cost for water operations; and improvements and modifications to the CalLite water operations model.
San Joaquin Valley Drainage Demonstration Plant
During 2013, the Region began constructing a demonstration plant that will be used to determine the best agricultural drain water treatment procedures for full-scale processing of irrigation drainage in portions of the western San Joaquin Valley.
Sladen Construction Group, Inc., of Stayton, Ore., was awarded $22.3 million to build the plant in the Panoche Drainage District, near Firebaugh, in Merced County.
Some of the world’s most productive agricultural lands are located in the San Joaquin Valley, but in the Central Valley Project’s San Luis Unit and adjacent lands a lack of full drainage service affects agriculture. Clay soils beneath farmland prevent irrigation water from percolating deeper into the soil and away from crop roots, causing water to accumulate in shallow water tables.
Better drainage will assist agriculture while avoiding or mitigating impacts to the environment and water quality. The irrigation drainage contains salt and elevated levels of a naturally occurring element, selenium.
The plant will be used to establish performance specifications for proposed selenium-removal technologies (reverse osmosis and bio-treatment); evaluate pretreatment options (flocculation, plate settler, media filtration, ultra-filtration, pH adjustment); and collect data for designs and cost estimates for future drainage plants in the CVP’s San Luis Unit.
The demonstration plant will be able to process 200 gallons per minute of agricultural drainage. The facility will include an 11,600-square-foot structure and 14 holding tanks of up to 65 feet in diameter and up to 26 feet in height.
The plant is scheduled to be operated for at least 18 months to collect data for final designs. Afterward, operation of the plant may continue by Reclamation or a designated operating partner.
An aerial view of the Klamath Basin with Mt. Shasta in the background
Klamath Basin Achievements
During 2013, there were two significant accomplishments in the Klamath Project. In June 2013, federal agencies issued a biological opinion which concluded that ongoing operations of the project are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of federally listed species. In December 2013, the Klamath Basin Task Force and Upper Basin Water Group announced an agreement in principle on Upper Basin water issues.
The BO issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service analyzed effects of Klamath Project operations, through the year 2023, on federally listed species. The opinion found that Reclamation’s water management approach will optimize limited water supplies, benefitting both listed fish species and project water users.
The BO analyzed the effects of the ongoing operations of the project through March 2023 on federally listed, threatened and endangered species, including the endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers and the threatened coho salmon and their designated critical habitat.
Reclamation, NMFS, and the USFWS participated in extensive interagency coordination during 2012 and 2013 for the purpose of collaboratively developing a water management approach that has the flexibility to optimize the benefits of available water for federally listed species, while providing irrigation deliveries to the project. Through this collaboration, Reclamation developed an innovative approach, with the benefit of providing greater certainty, early in the year, on the amount of water that will be available for Upper Klamath Lake (endangered suckers), the Klamath River (threatened coho salmon) and the overall project.
Implementation of this innovative water management approach will be beneficial during dry hydrologic years such as 2013, and throughout the term of the BO, because the approach is expected to more efficiently optimize limited water supplies to benefit listed fish species and project water users than in the past.
Agreement in Principle
In December, Reclamation and other members of the Klamath Basin Task Force and Upper Basin Water Group announced an agreement in principle on Upper Basin water issues.
Task force members, which included representatives of the upper Klamath Basin agricultural community and the Klamath Tribes, and state and federal agencies, developed an agreement in principle on water that addresses continuing conflicts over water use in the upper basin. The agreement, which also addresses ways to improve the economic condition of the Klamath Tribes, was developed by a sub-group of the full task force.
The full Klamath Basin Task Force held its final meeting in December 2013 to review the agreement in principle on water, as well as proposals to reduce the federal costs of the Klamath agreements and ways to provide affordable power for irrigators. Following input from community members in 2014, an agreement in principle will be forwarded as recommended legislation to members of Congress.
Red Bluff Fish Passage Improvements/Pumping Plant
Reclamation is nearing completion of the $185 million Red Bluff Fish Passage Improvement Project in Red Bluff in northern California, a project that represents the culmination of decades of efforts by various entities to ﬁnd a balanced solution that improves ﬁsh passage and the reliability of irrigation water to highly productive farmland.
The Region, which completed a new pumping plant and other major aspects of the project from 2010 through 2012, awarded a $3.9 million contract in September 2013 to decommission the Red Bluff Diversion Dam. Crews will work through 2014 to finish bracing the dam’s gates in the fully raised position.
During 2013, workers also restored the areas that were affected by construction. Earth moved during construction was returned to its natural shape and vegetation was planted to return the region to its former condition.
The overall improvement was required by the Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992 and reafﬁrmed by the National Marine Fisheries Service’s 2009 Biological Opinion for operation of the Central Valley Project, mandating an alternative to the Red Bluff Diversion Dam and raising of the gates year-round.
The Red Bluff Diversion Dam, completed in 1964, contains a series of 11 gates that, when lowered, provided for gravity diversion of irrigation water from the Sacramento River into the Tehama-Colusa and Corning canals. The Red Bluff Diversion Dam had been an impediment to upstream and downstream ﬁsh migration, and a signiﬁcant portion of the Sacramento River spawning habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead upstream of the dam. Adult ﬁsh moving upstream had difﬁculty ﬁnding and using the ladders for passage over the dam, and juveniles migrating downstream through the dam became disoriented by the turbulence, resulting in signiﬁcant mortality from predator ﬁsh. The main species of concern were the winter- and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead and green sturgeon.
The ﬁsh passage improvement project involved construction of a pumping plant, screened to protect ﬁsh, which conveys water from the Sacramento River to the irrigation canals. The pumping plant has replaced the diversion dam. The dam’s gates have been placed in the open position for free migration of ﬁsh, and the braces will make the action permanent.
The new pumping plant ensures continued water deliveries to 150,000 acres of farmland throughout a four-county area, served by 17 water districts. The $185 million in funding for the project includes $113 million from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the largest single outlay of ARRA funding in the nation by the Department of the Interior.
The project included construction of components such as the pumping plant intake; the pumping plant itself, which included nine pumps that together have a pumping capacity of 2,000 cubic feet per second; an 1,118-foot-long ﬁsh screen structure; a canal siphon; a discharge conduit; and a 660-foot-long bridge that allows maintenance workers access to the project.
Red Bluff Diversion Dam with closed gates