When recent storms and increased outflow from the Oroville Dam spillway raised the turbidity of the water at the Feather River Fish Hatchery, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) needed immediate assistance to save about 1 million steelhead eggs that could not be relocated. Local water utility Cal Water partnered with the DFW and Cal Fire to ensure that the eggs, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, would survive the storms and water flow.
Cal Water worked quickly with the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) to ensure it would remain in compliance with environmental regulations while diverting water for the emergency protection of these species. Upon receiving State Board approval, Cal Water was able to begin flowing water from a fire hydrant and through Cal Fire’s hose into the hatchery to protect the eggs from the more turbid water coming from the Oroville spillway and Feather River.
“Part of our commitment is to be a responsible steward of the environment,” said District Manager Toni Ruggle. “So, when the Department of Fish and Wildlife contacted us with this urgent need to save the threatened steelhead eggs at the hatchery, we didn’t hesitate to do whatever we could to help.”
Cal Water worked with the hatchery to ensure the fresh water went through a granular-activated carbon filtration system to remove the chlorine before the water was routed to the steelhead eggs, some of which were already hatching. Water in Cal Water’s distribution system is chlorinated to make it safe for human consumption; however, that chlorine can impact fish.