Making the Best of the Poor Conditions in this Critically Dry Year

By Jessica Law | July 23, 2021 | Sacramento Water Forum

Severe drought conditions are back in California. Unfortunately, that means the Lower American River is headed into what may be some of the worst summer conditions we’ve seen on the river in recent memory.

I won’t sugarcoat it. Conditions in the river will be bad. However, the Water Forum and our partners are working hard to ensure conditions are as good as they can possibly be, and to minimize harm to fish and habitat.

What to expect in the coming months

PHOTO CREDIT: DWR, Lower American River 2014

As you may have seen on the news, we began this year with a near-normal snowpack. In most years, the snowpack melts and feeds our lakes and rivers. This year, the snowpack disappeared in the span of several weeks, soaking into the dry soil or evaporating—perhaps foreshadowing what may turn out to be the case study for climate change impacts on our water supplies and environment.

Click here to read the article in full.

Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change

December 5, 2019
From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The manipulation of rivers in California is jeopardizing the resilience of native Chinook salmon. It compresses their migration timing to the point that they crowd their habitats. They may miss the best window for entering the ocean and growing into adults, new research shows.

The good news is that even small steps to improve their access to habitat and restore natural flows could boost their survival.

Click here to keep reading.

Authors of the research included scientists from University of California Davis, University of California Berkeley, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, University of California Santa Cruz, Cramer Fish Sciences, University of California San Francisco, and NOAA Fisheries. Funding was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Photo: Rachel Johnson, NOAA Fisheries/University of California, Davis

SMUD Roseville Water Transfer comments

On September 10, 2019, the Environmental Council of Sacramento and Habitat 2020 sent a letter to Sacramento Metropolitan Utilities District (SMUD) a letter regarding a proposed water transfer between the City of Roseville and SMUD. Below are some excerpts from the letter, followed by a link to the letter in full.

Recently the Environmental Council of Sacramento and Habitat 2020 became aware of the pending temporary water transfer between the City of Roseville and SMUD. Our review of the environmental assessment and decision document prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation found specific deficiencies in the analysis and a casual dismissal of the transfer’s cumulative significance. We believe that the proposed transfer of water does not contain the necessary safeguards to protect Lower American River fisheries. We request that the SMUD Board direct its staff to include provisions in the contract that will address these concerns.

We believe the transfers must be governed by the standards and requirements contained in the Modified Flow Management Standard. These standards and requirements would much better ensure that the transfer would not negatively impact the American River flow and temperature standards.

Click here to read the full letter.

Photo by George Nyberg of the American River

Editor’s note: A bridge to somewhere

By Foon Rhee
May 23, 2019
Sacramento News and Review

The I Street Bridge is 108 years old and rusty, and it rattles when a train passes over it. So, yes, a new span over the Sacramento River is way overdue. But the new bridge is not just another important transportation link between Sacramento and West Sacramento. It’s also an opportunity to make a design statement for the region.

The current I Street Bridge will stay open. The lower deck will continue to be used for passenger and freight trains, while the upper deck will be closed to vehicles and be converted into a pedestrian and bike path. The new bridge is just up river and will connect Railyards Boulevard on the edge of downtown Sacramento, and C Street in the Washington neighborhood in West Sacramento.

Click here to view the full article.

Designing the New I Street Bridge: Lighting Matters

New concept drawings for the replacement I Street bridge are now out for the public to see.

ECOS hopes the new bridge and the redesigned old bridge will both be lit in ways that is the least damaging to local ecosystems, like the Chinook Salmon that depend on the American River to survive as a species.Click here to learn more about light pollution effects on wildlife and ecosystems.

Click here to see some of the proposed bridge designs.

Some Like It Dark: Light Pollution And Salmon Survival

June 4, 2018

FISHBIO

The interaction between light pollution and predation could deal a heavy blow to species already struggling to survive. Bridges, in particular, often have lighting that shines into rivers at night, and attraction to these stationary lights can stop juvenile fish in their tracks as they migrate downstream, making them vulnerable to predators. Fish also frequently migrate and feed at night to hide from predators in the darkness, and bright lights shining on the water eliminate their protective cover. In rivers where salmon spawn, juvenile salmon can be especially impacted by bright nighttime lights or reflections on the surface of the water because predation is a major contributing factor to the high mortality of juvenile salmon. Light pollution from the iconic Sundial Bridge in Redding, California (shown above), was a suspected factor that contributed to the near loss of Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon from 2011–2013.

Click here to read the full article.