Mar 1, 2014

Insult to Injury

Yesterday, a team of volunteers from the Carmel River Steelhead Association (CRSA) walked the Carmel River to check the flow of water. With the region under extreme draught conditions there is worry that this year the river may not run to the sea - critical to the life cycle of the threatened steelhead trout. The steelhead is the ananadromous (sea-run) form of coastal rainbow trout that usually returns to fresh water to spawn after living two to three years in the ocean. 

Without a breach to the sea and sustained water flow in the Carmel River, juvenile fish upstream will not be able to return to the ocean and adults will be prevented from moving up river to spawn. Check out this in-depth news story that explains the issue, HERE.  

Adding more trouble for the fish and other aquatic life, Frank Emerson, Vice President of CRSA, found a large spill of white substance pouring out of a storm drain and into the Carmel River near the Cabrillo Highway bridge.

Initially, the volume of white, cloudy water was extensive. Within an hour, the runoff cleared but the substance was visible in the main stem of the waterway leading into the lagoon. Larry Hampson, hydrologist for Monterey Peninsula Municipal Water District (MPMWD) was contacted - he assessed the pollution and took samples. The Office of Emergency Services was also notified.

Frank moved up the outfall to investigate the source and, to his surprise, he found a small adult steelhead trout trying to jump the barrier and swim up the storm drain. As the flow in this side channel dropped, however, the fish became stranded. 

A rescue crew from the MPMWD relocated the fish upstream.

So far, the flow in the river is not enough to run to the ocean, but the group will monitor it closely. There is fear that if the river does breach to the sea during flooding, there may not be enough to maintain a flow after the rain subsides, and fish will need to be rescued. Volunteers are on high alert.

We encourage you to support this valuable organization with a membership of $25.00, HERE, a family membership for only $45.00, HERE, or with a donation of any size, HERE.

More on CRSA efforts: