Cal Water has started an extensive environmental project to protect the trout population in Bear Gulch Creek. Cal Water draws its water for Bear Gulch District customers from the creek, which also supports runs of steelhead trout, considered to be threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
In 2013, Cal Water joined forces with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop a fish passage initiative and operations plan that would allow the trout to further migrate and spawn. The project was organized in two phases. First, Cal Water installed a concrete weir flow monitor to provide adequate flow for the trout to thrive and move up and down the stream.
In the second phase of the initiative, which began this month, crews will conduct site improvements before mounting a fish ladder, including:
- Modifying the existing dam and intake
- Creating a new concrete apron
- Installing Obermeyer gates to control the water levels
- Adding a fish screen
- Constructing a channel spanning boulder weir
- Inserting a new utility control building
- Improving existing road access to the utility building
Once the ladder is installed, it will maintain minimum bypass flow and contain a series of ascending pools to allow the trout to move from pool to pool until they are out of the ladder. Additionally, the ladder will clear a path for the trout to move to both the bay and the ocean. The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of October.
“Cal Water is committed to being a responsible steward of the environment, and our main goal with this project is to encourage the population of threatened steelhead trout to migrate upstream and downstream, so they can repopulate,” said District Manager Dawn Smithson. “Our team is dedicated to increasing sustainability and improving the natural habitat in Bear Gulch Creek through this initiative. We look forward to continuing to work with the Town of Woodside, San Mateo County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the National Marine Fisheries Service to provide our community with sustainable and efficient water resource management.”