Amber Manfree: Good afternoon. There’s a lot of you here. How wonderful. How many of you care about water? Now, what should we do about competing demands on our water supplies? Ok, that’s a lot more complicated question, right? Conserve. We’re going to talk about that today. All right, so, I’m going to talk about the Napa River watershed. And I’ll talk a little bit about the work that Water Audit does as an organization. And I’ll also introduce the speakers that are going to give us more detail on some of these topics. The theme of this event is We Manage What We Measure and that that has something to do with with needing to know what’s going on in order to make good decisions.
Amber Manfree: So first off, I’ll give you a little virtual tour of the Napa River watershed. This is a view from the mountain range above town. And we’re looking down at the city of Napa as a hail storm passes over. And you can kind of see San Pablo Bay here. We’re lucky to live in a very beautiful place with real active weather systems, gives us a lot of variety in the weather.
Amber Manfree: Here’s a look at the watersheds of California so you can get an idea of how we’re situated in the State. The Napa River is here. It’s this watershed that’s draining into San Pablo Bay. And it’s a relatively small piece of the big picture for the state of California. But from a fish’s perspective, this is an important watershed potentially. As you come through the Golden Gate, it’s one of the first sizable tributaries to San Pablo Bay and the Pacific Ocean. And it’s a relatively easy swim through the Golden Gate and to the Napa River. And it’s a lot safer swim than going through (oops I’m going to have to go back) going through the delta. It’s a bigger watershed than Petaluma or Sonoma, and it’s relatively intact when you compare it to other watersheds around the San Francisco Bay itself because of all the urbanization that’s happened. It’s, if you consider urbanization hard escaping, we live in a much softer landscape. It’s more malleable. We have more options with the way we manage it and the results we get in our water supply.
Amber Manfree: Here’s a look at the Napa River main stem near Calistoga. We have a lot of really beautiful habitat in the watershed still.
Amber Manfree: This is an aerial view of the ecological reserve outside of St. Helena. And this is kind of a remnant riparian corridor, which would have initially been a little wider, extending into the vineyards around it, that are around it now. And most of the main stem, Napa River, looks more like this portion down here where there’s a really narrow riparian corridor of trees and shrubs along the waterway.
Amber Manfree: Here’s another view looking upstream toward Mount St. Helena. And you kind of get that sense that it’s been largely converted to really narrow riparian corridors that are vegetated.
Amber Manfree: Here’s a look at Rector Dam when it’s overflowing. And there’s a lot of power coming out of this spillway.
Amber Manfree: This is a look at the San Francisco Bay. Generally, it’s kind of another view of where the Napa is in relation to everything around it.
Amber Manfree: And this is a look at our precipitation patterns, so a lot rainier on the west side of the Napa River drainage, a little bit drier on the east side, but still substantial watersheds. And that’s where we get most of our drinking water supplies for our cities. So this is the watersheds in Napa County. The brownish area up here draining to Putah Creek that goes through Yolo County and out to the Sacramento River. This portion down here drains to Suisun Marsh. And then this is the Napa River watershed proper. To give you an idea of how the county is broken up.
Amber Manfree: This is a look at just the Napa River watershed and the areas that are dammed. We’ve dammed about 20% of the land area of the watershed. So that’s been cut off from access for spawning fishes, and depending on the management regimes, may or may not have environmental flows for fishes. We’ll talk about that a little bit more later.
Amber Manfree: And this is a look at the area that is vineyard. We all know this is a big region for wine production in vineyards and about 20% of our Napa River watershed, or 50,000 acres, is planted in vineyards. That’s the purple area in this map. And the other thing on here is, I think the next map is similar oh nope, is wastewater treatment plants. So you can see how those are spaced up the main stem of the river, and the watersheds that are dammed are called out here as well.
Amber Manfree: All right, and then this is a look at some of the restoration projects that have happened along the river. Previous generations have really gifted us a gem of a watershed. It’s been very well stewarded, especially compared to other watersheds in the State for the last hundred years. And especially in the latter half of the 1900’s there were a number of actions that our community took to make sure that we didn’t become super urban, like was happening in Santa Clara Valley at the time, with the adoption of the agricultural preserve and with our defensive of it over the years. And in the 1990’s, we adopted the Viewshed Ordinance and also the Hillside Ordinance to keep the watersheds above our drinking water supplies more intact, and our streams more intact. And prevent erosion, prevent the kinds of problems you can get when you develop too close to streams in areas that have steep sided slopes.
Amber Manfree: We’ve also had a number of really big projects. The Napa River Flood Control Project was a flagship project by the Army Corps of Engineers, which was intended to bring multiple benefits of reducing flood risk in the watershed and also protecting, protecting species and improving habitat, and that kind of functionality, in addition to protecting property values for people who lived along along the main stem, Napa River.
Amber Manfree: Then after that, people in the Rutherford reach banded together, vineyard owners and agency people, to restore – restore the Napa River main stem for increased floodplain habitat functionality, better scour, setting back deeply incised banks to create better habitat for fish, and more function for flood control upstream. And the Oakville to Oak Knoll project right below that is now coming online. That’s been under current restoration for the past year or two. And that’s about nine and half miles of river, about four miles for the Rutherford reach, and then the Napa River mainstem was another seven miles or so.
Amber Manfree: And the other really big thing going on in our watershed is the protection of the lower estuarine portion, where many thousands of acres, tens of thousands of acres have been made part of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge in the past 20 years or so. And that’s been amazing to see the change. Anyone who’s driven down Highway 37 recently, if you had driven down Highway 37 in the 1980s, you wouldn’t believe the difference. It used to be salt evaporation ponds that were just red with tiny crustaceans. And there was not a lot of bird life, not a lot of fish life. But now the place is absolutely thriving and it’s being reintroduced to tidal action. It’s a really positive thing for the watershed and it will help a lot with sea level rising, I believe.
Amber Manfree: Here’s a look at the Napa River Flood Control project downtown. So far, for all the big rain events we’ve had, it seems to be functioning really well. We haven’t had it overtop, just yet.
Amber Manfree: And this is a look at an aerial of the lower Napa River estuarine restoration area. This is Horseshoe Bend and the Napa Pipe area with Soscol Avenue here, Highway 29 coming around. And you can get an idea of how vast this restoration area is. This is just a small part of it. As it goes down toward San Pablo Bay, it opens out and covers a really large area of the county.
Amber Manfree: I think I’ve kind of covered this. This is locations of interest for water management.
Amber Manfree: And this is a quick look at just how many different fish passage barriers there are. This is somewhat – not every single one of these is still accurate. It’s a Department of Fish and Wildlife database that gives an overview of about how many barriers there are. Total with the red crosses, partial in pink, natural partial barrier – so that could be something like a steep drop off where there’s a waterfall, natural total barrier, screen diversion, un-screened diversion in black dots, remediated in purple – those are ones that have been addressed. And just to give you an idea of how, how another look at how it may look to a fish traveling through this watershed, that there’d be a lot of potential barriers to migration that they might encounter.
Amber Manfree: Now I’m going to talk a little bit about Water Audit. Water Audit is an advocate for the public trust. My involvement in Water Audit started about five years ago this month when Professor Peter Moyle came to me and said, you know, I’ve been talking with somebody who’s interested in advocating for the public trust and they’re interested in projects in Napa County. And you seem like the kind of person who might be good for this project. And I said, well, if you think so, Peter, let’s go ahead and see what we can do. And I’ve been really amazed by this project. At that time we were, we were just thinking, you know, there’s this Fish and Game Code on the books from the 1800’s, is it possible to enforce it and make sure that environmental flows for fishes are released from dams? And it turns out it is possible. We’ve been very successful in getting that to happen here in Napa County. And, yeah, it’s just been amazing to watch it happen over the last five years.
Amber Manfree: And then the, Water Audit’s kind of next thing is what we are doing today. It’s encouraging people in Napa County to get together and do coordinated watershed management, thoughtful watershed management, do appropriate measuring and monitoring to make sure that we know what’s going on so that we can, so that we can appropriately respond to emerging issues and get any kind of problems that we might be having under control. And to also encourage stakeholder processes, the kind of processes that brought us the Napa Flood Management Project and really the AG Preserve, too. I mean, that was effectively a stakeholder process the way that it unrolled. So getting everybody on the same page, talking about the issues and making sure that we’re balancing needs across a variety of interests.
Amber Manfree: So for today, I guess I’ll just say it was visionary leadership that got us where we are in Napa County, that has kept this place open and available for restoration and fish productivity. It’s been identified as a location of priority by Cal Trout for restoration in the State because they see that it has the potential to be much more productive. When you talk to old-timers, they will tell you that out on Huichica Creek or on the main stem Napa River, they used to be able to go and fish for dinner on a regular basis. And that’s not really the case now. So something has changed over the last 70 or 80 years and it’s not too late to get it back, but it’s going to take some work.
Amber Manfree: And that’s about it. So following me we are going to hear from Professor Peter Moyle about Ecosystem-Based Management, and Ted Grantham talking about geomorphology and what’s going on in the Napa River watershed. So with that, I’ll hand it off to Peter Moyle. He’s a distinguished professor emeritus from UC Davis. He’s, if you’re into fish, he’s the person in California. He literally wrote the book Inland Fishes of California. And he’s a fantastic advocate for fishes and for people and for ecosystems and has been doing amazing work in California to get us to appreciate our native fishes and get us to work to bring them back since the early 1970s. And I think it’s no exaggeration to say that Peter has raised an army of people who will fight for fish in this State with hundreds of graduate students and many thousands of undergraduate students under his wing. Thank you.
Peter Moyle: Yeah, thanks, Amber. It’s a real pleasure to be here and to be introduced by Amber. I’m very proud of her. She’s one of my last graduate students. I still have a couple, but she’s one of the ones who’s done some things that are very different than were usually done in my lab. So it’s been a pleasure.
Peter Moyle: So I want to talk about ecosystem-based management because it’s a new approach, well not all that new, but it’s a good approach toward managing places like the Napa River. This is a very special place here.
Peter Moyle: And what I want to talk about is, first, what is ecosystem-based management? Why is there a need for it? Why is the Napa Valley an especially good place to implement an ecosystem-based management program? And then Ted will follow up with some more additional information.
Peter Moyle: And a lot of this is based on this publication here, which those of you who got emails from Water Audit will know, probably had a link to this. This is published by the Public Policy’s Institute of California. It just came out. The lead author is Jeff Mount, my colleague, and Ted and I are both co-authors on this. And it’s meant to be a readable summary of what ecosystem-based management is and why we think it’s a general way to manage aquatic systems that would work for all of California.
Peter Moyle: OK, so what is ecosystem-based management? Well, here we have this, these long definitions on the board here. But basically it’s a management designed to support good ecological conditions in a river system. And these conditions are supposed to be good for both people and fish as well as for other, the entire aquatic ecosystems. And the idea is a management, general management process that integrates human actions and needs into management goals and objectives in order to achieve a desired ecosystem condition.
Peter Moyle: Desired ecosystem condition is an important aspect of it because it says we’re in charge. This is a “desired” meaning “our”, what “we” want to see this ecosystem to look at. Because every ecosystem in California, especially the aquatic ecosystems, has been greatly changed in the last hundred years. And that means we have to be thinking about messing around with the structure of the watersheds, of the ecosystems, the physical features and as well as the plant and animal communities. And then managing such features as the timing and quantity of flows down the rivers, or the changes in species abundance, and so forth. In other words taking a holistic point of view on things.
Peter Moyle: And why we need this kind of approach is simply because we’ve screwed up our water systems so much that they are increasingly, controversies, are arising that are heralded as disputes between people and fish. And, it’s making life a lot more difficult for people than I think it needs to be. This map here, for example, shows you what the distribution of salmon and steelhead once was in California. Everything in red is where they no longer are because of dams. And the dams not only block access to a lot of the primary habitat for the fish like this, but they also can drastically change the stream downstream of the dams, making it also less, often less desirable to you see the fishes we want. Sometimes non-native fishes that we don’t want become dominant.
Peter Moyle: And this has led to the situation where 83% of the native fishes in California, about 130 species, are either extinct or declining. And you have to recognize that most of these fish are found only in California. We have a really unique fish fauna which reflects the unique nature of our rivers and streams, like the Napa River. And, you know, just to show you it’s not just me talking, although a lot of the data that gets used is mine, is that 23% of these species that are still around with us are also listed as threatened or endangered by either the State or Federal Government. So it’s not just me talking about this. This is already a quarter of the fish fauna essentially is being listed.
Peter Moyle: And climate change is going to make things worse, which is why we have to deal with these issues now. The white bars on here are percentage of native fishes. The black bars are percentages of non-native fishes. And this shows the climate change vulnerability to fishes in the San Francisco estuary, the streams around the San Francisco estuary, including the Napa River. And what you see here is that the white bars are more over on the critically vulnerable to highly vulnerable side of our calculations. And the least vulnerable, or even likely to increase under climate change, are characterized as non-native fishes. So if you want ecosystems that contain fishes, we have a lot of work ahead of us to make that happen because right now the climate change is working against us.
Peter Moyle: And I talk about fish because that’s what I love, that’s what I work with, but, what’s happening with the fish, they’re just at the leading indicator of camp changes in aquatic systems. And you see that amphibians, birds, crustaceans, plants are all falling on the same trajectory. In other words our aquatic systems generally are in bad shape.
Peter Moyle: And dams, of course, are one of the major factors we have to deal with, and certainly the Napa Valley has its share. I’ll get out of the way of this map here. You probably know where these all are, and the Napa River is an altered system because of this.
Peter Moyle: And this brings into the problem, I guess you could call it a problem, of the Endangered Species Acts, which are some of – the Federal Act is one of the most powerful pieces of environmental legislation ever passed. And it protects species like steelhead in the Napa River and results in continuous controversies with local government, with landowners, in terms of who gets the water. And the Endangered Species Act has actually been a pretty successful Act, but it’s only slowed declines of the listed species, it hasn’t stopped them. Species like the Delta smelt, for example, which has been listed for quite some time, is on the verge of extinction. And many unlisted species are in the queue for listing, but the present situation is very few are getting listed. But one of the things that this PPIC report does that I just talked about, it has a section in there that says the goals of the E.S., the “Endangered Species Act can be accomplished without this kind of drastic action.” They can be done if people want to work together. Yet, the Guide actually allows for all kinds of options we don’t talk about.
Peter Moyle: So the conclusion is then, that water management is not working well in California and the Napa Valley for either fish or people, and we need to figure out a way to make this work better.
Peter Moyle: So, I wanted to talk about now, and get back to ecosystem-based management, and talk about some of the principles of ecosystem-based management. I’ll have, talk about five different principles here, a bit simplified, but you can read them in more detail in that PPIC report, if you’re interested.
Peter Moyle: Well, Principle #1 is that Managed Environmental Flows Will Improve the Ecosystem. One of the things we’ve come to realize in recent years is that each species has its own unique response to flows in a river. And if you have many species living together in a river, you have to be thinking about the variability in flows that is good for all these different species, and how you balance these things from within a year and between years. This is just a diagram showing the movements of fish in just one river system. And you have to consider both the functional aspects of the flows, that is the components of the flow regime that control important physical, biochemical and ecosystem functions, which is why you have to be able to be out there and manage these flows carefully. And you, it’s also a good idea to think about environmental water budgets, to have some kind of an annual water allocation just for the aquatic systems.
Peter Moyle: Another Principle is you need to Improve the Structure and Structural Habitats to Maximize the Benefit of Flows. If you take out more water and put it in the river and you don’t improve the banks of the river, you don’t improve the habitat along the river, you’re wasting that water. So you need to have structural, improved habitat structure to take advantage of improved flows and an improved flow regime in the river. This just shows Putah Creek and the process of being restored in 2011 and 2017 and shows you what kind of drastic changes you might have to make while you’re restoring it and what it can look like afterwards. You’ll hear more about Putah Creek in this session, I’m sure.
Peter Moyle: The third Principle is that we manage, you have to Manage Water Quantity and Water Quality Together. We all like streams that have – we can swim in, we can fish in, we can take drinking water out of, the fish like that same kind of water. So managing quality, quality and quantity of water together is very important. Watching to see how we do things on the landscape, what we do about pollutants, and so forth.
Peter Moyle: A fourth Principle is that we have to Actively Manage All the Species in the System, Both Native and Non-native. You can’t just – That’s one of the problems with the Endangered Species Act. It just focuses on the native species and in fact all the native and non-native species are together in the same ecosystems. And what you do to that system is going to affect all the fishes in the system. So you have to again take this more holistic point of view. And if you do that, the endangered species like the steelhead and the Delta smelt have some chance of coming back.
Peter Moyle: The fifth Principle is you have to Manage at the Watershed Level. That’s probably happening here, more here in the Napa Valley than most places in California already. But one of the reasons for that is that here the natural and jurisdictional boundaries pretty much coincide. That’s very unusual. So you don’t have to worry about cross boundary agreements and so forth. And this means we’re taking a coupled human natural system approach. In other words, you’re looking at this system not only as being good for people, but good for the fish, and how can you make them work together. You have to address multiple stressors and human well-being at the same time. You have to recognize that what goes on in the upper watershed affects the lower watershed and so forth. Again, since you live here, you certainly have noticed this in the Napa River.
Peter Moyle: And so why recommend ecosystem-based management for the Napa watershed? Well, first off, you have an identity here. Everybody knows the Napa Valley, knows the Napa River. This is a very distinctive place in California. So anything you do here will have repercussions statewide. It’s also a reasonable size. You don’t have to be real bogged down in the huge number of controversies you have in some place like the Central Valley, for example. And it’s big enough so what you do will really be noticeable. Again, the jurisdictional and watershed boundaries coincide, which makes that a lot easier.
Peter Moyle: Also, the ecosystem-based management is good for the, could be good for the Napa watershed because of, there are lots of opportunities here for improved water management. And you’ll hear more about those later in the program. Including opportunities with both surface water and groundwater and the interactions of the two.
Peter Moyle: And also, we are fortunate here in the Napa Valley to have lots of historic information, to have lots of studies that have been done here that show what the landscape has been like, and what it could be like. I recommend especially this historical atlas by the San Francisco Estuary Institute. And this one, the Watershed Guide that was passed out from the 1990s. It shows you how long these kind of ideas have been circulating.
Peter Moyle: Well, and of course the fish are important here, too, as another reason for trying ecosystem-based management. There are 52 species of fish that have been recorded from the Napa River and its tributary, 24 of these are non-native, 28 are native, 5 are already extirpated from the watershed. So you have something to work with. You can use these fish to look at responses to what you’re doing to the overall system. I think that’s a very fortunate thing. And basically, if the non-native fishes, especially fish like steelhead, become more abundant, you know you’re really being successful.
Peter Moyle: So, at this time I’ll pass it over to Ted Grantham to talk about Ecosystem-Based Management in Practice. Ted is on the faculty at UC Berkeley and does a lot of extension work in this region as well as elsewhere in California.
Ted Grantham: All right. Thank you. Yeah. So my name is Ted Grantham. I’m a professor and Cooperative Extension Specialist over at U.C. Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Also did a post-doc for a couple of years with Peter, so one of his many, many disciples. I’m just going to take a few minutes to sort of take some of the ideas that Peter introduced around ecosystem management and provide a couple concrete examples to think about when we try to envision what this might look like in places like the Napa River. Again, I just want to acknowledge the Public Policy Institute and the work that we did because we are drawing a lot of ideas from that collaborative effort.
Ted Grantham: So, Peter reviewed these principles of ecosystem-based management, and I just want to provide a couple examples specifically to illustrate what we’re talking about here when we . sort of think about what this actually would mean. And we’re gonna go next door, up and over the valley to the Putah Creek watershed, and to the Yolo bypass in Sacramento to do so.
Ted Grantham: So, as many of you probably know, you know, our landscapes, our wetlands and floodplain landscapes have been really transformed throughout California. We’ve, in places like the Delta and throughout the Central Valley in particular, we’ve really transformed these broad expanses of wetland and floodplain habitat into a series of fairly, fairly narrow channels. And that landscape transformation has had really significant consequences for our fish populations and bird populations and other indicators of our ecosystems.
Ted Grantham: This is not the Napa or the Sacramento River, but it’s probably what the Sacramento or perhaps even parts of the Napa River looked like about 150, 150 years ago. This is actually the Zambezi River. So, we’ve never had hippos here in the Napa River. But in terms of thinking about what the landscape looked like and this really dynamic connection between the river and the land, it just kind of gives you an idea of what river in these lowland valleys, what they look like.
Ted Grantham: And this is what a lot of our rivers in California look like today when we look at our valleys. And here you can see clearly that our rivers have been really confined to these really narrow, narrow channels. We’ve lost that kind of connectivity with the landscape and the riparian zone, and it really changes the physical structure and function of these systems.
Ted Grantham: So one place where sort of an experiment in floodplain and flood management has really been evolving over the past several decades, is the Yolo bypass in, just outside the city of Sacramento. And I think there’s a lot of just great, great lessons to think about for Napa when we try to envision, you know, what this flood plain restoration project or flood restoration project looks like, means for the State, and what more we can do to meet the needs of both people and the environment. So just to orient you, the Yolo bypass, here’s the city of Sacramento here, the Yolo bypass basically collects flood waters upstream of the city of Sacramento and moves those floodwaters away from the city and down, and the waters enter the Sacramento again. So it’s, it was really designed as a flood protection system. What’s really unique about it is that for most of the year and in most years, in fact, most of the Yolo bypass is dry and it’s actively managed as an area of agricultural production. A lot of rice and other crops are grown in this Yolo bypass system.
Ted Grantham: And it turns out that the Yolo bypass is also a really fantastic place for shorebirds and waterfowl. And these seasonal habitats that are provided by this sort of natural flooding has just really been a hotspot of activity. It’s a great place to go birding and just sort of see that there’s a lot of these natural functions that are still being preserved in this highly managed, in this highly managed system. So over the past decade or so, you know, biologists have sort of been kind of eyeing this system and kind of recognizing that the loss of floodplains has something to do, is probably in part explains why many of our fish populations are doing so poorly. You know, historically many of these floodplains, when they would flood fish would move onto these floodplains and they would breed and they would eat and these were very productive habitats. This is why birds like them. And so it got fish biologists like Peter and others to think about what, what might it mean to actually reintroduce fish to places like the Yolo bypass. And so a series of experiments were conducted where working with land owners, with farmers of, rice farmers, they did some controlled flooding of rice fields in the wintertime and they created these exclosures here where they did these experimental treatments, where they took fish and put them on these flooded rice fields to see how well fish would grow. And these are some Chinook salmon that were taken from a hatchery and put out onto these rice fields. And they also compared the, sort of the growth and health of these fish growing on these rice fields, compared them to the condition of fish growing in the river, in the main stem of the Sacramento River right next door.
Ted Grantham: And, it turns out that these floodplains became highly productive in terms of the fish food. So, they sampled the water quality in the river and these floodplains, and what they found was it was chock full of these little plankton that was feeding these fish. And this resulted in tremendous differences in the size and health of the fish growing on these managed rice fields, flooded rice fields. So this work is really exciting for a whole host of reasons. One, I mean, we knew, there’s a lot of reason to think we might see some sort of effect, but the size of this effect was really, was really remarkable.
Ted Grantham: The second thing that was really exciting about this, is this is really a win, a win win. I mean, these are, the ability to flood these rice fields is actually pretty consistent with the agricultural cycles for these rice fields. And so, while it certainly costs, has some expense to the grower, these practices are absolutely compatible. And so there’s a lot of interest in sort of scaling this up to other systems. I would love to see an experiment on winegrapes. If you guys know any grape, knows any vineyards that flood regularly in the Napa, let’s put some fish out there and see what happens in the winter. So we know that it works for rice, they’re really trying to scale this up to some other parts of the Central Valley. And again, this is really a great example of a win win for both people and for fish.
Ted Grantham: And I think this change and this sort of approach to flood management, I think is really starting a broader conversation around multi-objective flood management and just rethinking the way that we manage our rivers and our river system. Recognizing that, particularly as we look ahead towards climate change, and seeing more intense storms, for example, it’s really going to stress our existing flood control systems. And we really need to think about new ways to manage the risks of floods and potentially find ways to restore some of these natural floodplain functions that both provide habitat for species that we care about, potentially mitigate some of the flood risk, and do things like recharge groundwater even, if we do it right.
Ted Grantham: So, the second example I want to highlight is actually right next door in Putah Creek. So, this is the Putah Creek watershed that you see here on the right with Lake Berryessa up at the top. This is then flowing from from west to west-east. I’m a bit sheepish telling this story as it’s really not really my story to tell, and more the story of Peter and Rich Marovich here, who were, you know, on the ground and made this success story possible. But it’s one of my favorite stories, because, again, it’s another, it really illustrates how the needs of the environment and the way that we manage the environment can really work for people, too. And we can move away from this sort of fish versus farms or fish versus people mentality, and find ways to really reconcile these competing interests.
Ted Grantham: So. Briefly, the Putah Creek watershed was basically transformed with the construction of Monticello Dam in the 1950’s where they created Lake Berryessa and downstream built a major diversion dam that basically, they release water from the dam, it flows a couple of miles downstream into this diversion dam from which it flows into a canal and distributes water throughout the county for agriculture.
Ted Grantham: And looking at it from this perspective here, you can see the dam and the waters flowing, flowing to the east. Here you see the Monticello Dam, the Putah diversion dam for the downstream, and then about 20 miles of river before it actually flows into the Yolo bypass. Now, after this project was built, there were surveys that started to happen, for fish surveys, to understand what the distribution of fishes were. This is when Peter arrived at UC Davis and started doing, sampling this system.
Ted Grantham: And what you saw in the system was a really unique suite of fish communities in the upper, middle and lower part of the river. So this upper part of the river was dominated by these two native species, primarily trout. It’s great trout habitat because they have this steady cold water, being flowed, being released basically year round to deliver water to that diversion dam. It certainly isn’t you know isn’t natural, but it’s great for trout. As you move downstream, you start to see an assemblage of native fishes that’s much more representative of our Central Valley native fish fauna, really cool species like the Sacramento Sucker and the California Roach Hitch and others. But as you move down to the very bottom of the system, you tend to see many more non-native species that tend to thrive in much more degraded physical habitats.
Ted Grantham: Starting around, I believe the 1980s, there was a drought and perhaps even changes in management operations that led to several basically much reduced flows in the Putah Creek and even, dried up at at certain times. And with these sort of changes in this sort of the drying up of the stream, you started to see really an expansion of the distribution of these non-native species further and further up into the watershed at the expense, of these native species. And I won’t get into the details of the sort of the political and social action that followed that ultimately led to a settlement agreement, Rich is here and may be able to speak a little bit to that process, but ultimately, what happened, a settlement agreement was eventually reached between the Solano Irrigation District and other parties that were working to improve the condition of Putah Creek for fish.
Ted Grantham: And that, and as part of that agreement, they changed the operations of Monticello dam and of this Putah diversion project to provide more flows for fish at particular times of year. And I’ll just briefly walk you through here. Basically, what they realized and this is sort of based on knowledge of the native species life histories, is that what was really impacting, negatively impacting many of these native fish was the loss of these spring spawning flows to which these species were adapted. And so this new flow regime was introduced that increased those spring flows significantly and also increased some of the late summer flows to maintain water quality conditions throughout the summer. The overall change, the overall addition of water was actually, fairly minimal. It was, you know, 20% more than had been provided previously. But that’s still representative of a very small fraction of the total discharge coming down that system. So the majority of water is still diverted, through the Putah diversion channel, to meet agricultural needs. And this increase in environmental flows was actually quite, quite modest. But what was more important here was the way in which this water was now being reallocated, to really hit the cues for these native species. So, so what? So what happened when this new flow regime was reintroduced?
Ted Grantham: What we saw was the dramatic rebound of native species in the system. Let me walk you through this graph really quick. Each of these panels represents a different part of the river, moving from basically the location of the Putah Diversion Channel, a dam all the way down to the outlet of the, of Putah creek. And so this middle section between kilometer 6 and kilometer 21, is the area that had previously been dominated by these native, non-native species through, because of the, the lack of flows essentially. And so what this shows you is the proportion of native species found in the sample before and after the change in operations. And so this area shows that there are proportionately of all the fish present, there are very few native species. And then following the, this change, we saw this big increase in the relative abundance of native species to non-native species. So this is some of the best evidence that we have that changing our operations in providing these environmental flows in ways that are, that meet the life history needs of species, can really have a demonstrable impact on, beneficial impact, on native fishes. What’s interesting here is that even though we introduced this flow regime, we had very few native fish down in this lower Putah creek before these changes in flows. And even after the change in flows, we didn’t really see a rebound. And this speaks to the importance of habitat as well, as Peter mentioned, you know, providing the right timing and volume of flows down a concrete channel is not going to be enough for fish. You really have to couple these changes in flows, with habitat improvements to realize the benefits.
Ted Grantham: So, I mean, there’s also a great human part of this story, which again, I won’t speak to in detail, but in addition to this incredible sort of biological response to these treatments, there’s really been a remarkable community response as well, where Putah Creek has really, where as once viewed as really a working river, is now really viewed as this natural asset, and this resource to protect and to celebrate by the community.
Ted Grantham: So just a few lessons learned from these two examples that I highlighted. First, I think both these examples really highlight that we can make water work for both people and nature. We can move beyond this sort of paradigm of people versus nature. Second, I didn’t really provide much background, but I think to really make these things work, we have to be willing to take some risks. We have to be willing to put fish on rice fields and see what happens. Right? We have to be able to, we have to just take some risks just to realize the benefits. And, you know, both of these efforts that are highlighted really did involve a lot of science, which I think can be really helpful in giving us ideas of how to approach things, but it was really the partnerships involved, whether it’s, you know, scientists and agencies and farmers and water districts, you know, working, working together to make these projects happen. And again, in both of these cases, the solutions were really homegrown. I mean, these are not, this is not the State coming in and telling you what you need to do. These are projects that are really built from the ground up to make it happen. So I hope these stories might give some inspiration for things in the Napa in the future.
Ted Grantham: I guess, you know, I’m not, don’t do a lot of work in the Napa river, I work a lot in northern California, but this is not a system in which I’m intimately familiar. But I see a few lessons from my experiences working on other systems that could be relevant here and opportunities for the Napa. First, I mean, through our work with Water Audit, we’re already getting water back into these creeks that haven’t seen, summer flows, in many years in some cases. What we haven’t done yet, but I think that there’s opportunities, think about conjunctively managing those flow releases, particularly in the spring, to increase, to basically improve flows in the main stem. We have all of these dams and they’re all operated more or less independently. What would happen if we just started communicating with one another and saying, you know, let’s release a pulse flow in the spring and see if we can, you know, extend the period of salmon migration. Or inundate floodplains in the lower Napa for just a few more days to get a little bit more out of, a little more ecological benefit.
Ted Grantham: I’m not talking, I think we’re going to talk a lot more about groundwater later, but groundwater management is absolutely essential to restoring base flows in the summer. And how we manage groundwater is intimately connected to how we manage our surface waters. You know, there’s been tremendous work in the lower system, we have a more or less intact estuary, these fantastic floodplain restoration efforts, and I think there’s really a possibility here to leverage those efforts and bring that upstream. And really connect our tributaries to the main stem, to the lower system, to make an intact watershed that’s going to work for, for everyone.
Ted Grantham: So, food for thought. That’s all I have. We’re gonna take a five minute break. Everyone can stretch a little bit, and thank you.
Douglas Tolley: So, I was asked to give basically an overview of groundwater because it’s important for groundwater-surfacewater actions.
Douglas Tolley: So this is a typical understanding of water supply in California. People know that it rains, and they can get water from their tap, but this middle part they really don’t have any information about. So hopefully we’ll be able to fill in at least a little bit of this box by the end of this presentation. I do have to say, I recreated this from memory. I stole this from somewhere else, but I couldn’t actually find it on Google anywhere. So I’m pretty sure that this exists, but there’s a credit here, but I have no idea who it is, unfortunately.
Douglas Tolley: So the first thing I’d like to start off with is really basic stuff: What is an aquifer? You hear about groundwater a lot, but because we never see it, people really don’t understand what it is. And it’s pretty simple at its basic. So essentially we just have a bunch of sediment grains that were eroded off the mountains and then carried down into streams and then they were deposited somewhere. And we have the actual hard pieces of sediment grains, usually these are like sands and clays and silts. And then in between them we have some spaces because these aren’t perfectly square blocks that fit together nice like Lego blocks. And so this water can collect in these void spaces in between. This is referred to as a sedimentary aquifer. Another type of aquifer that you may have here along the mountains is known as a bedrock aquifer. And so this will typically be a much harder rock that’s consolidated like granites or metamorphic rocks. But there’s typically these little tiny fractures that are in there that water can get into and flow through. So depending on the degree of connectivity of these fractures, you can get water from these as well. Sedimentary aquifers tend to produce a lot more water per volume than these bedrock aquifers. And so these are typically for domestic well use only. These sedimentary aquifers are more for agricultural purposes because you can get a lot more water out of them. And if you’ve, so the definition is down here at the bottom, but it’s essentially a rock unit that we can get a usable quantity of water from. And the definition of usable is depending on who’s actually using the water. So, again, bedrock aquifers are usable for domestic. Sedimentary aquifers wouldn’t, would be more in line with agricultural pumping wells and so on and so forth.
Douglas Tolley: And if you’ve heard of SGMA or the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, these are the types of aquifers that are currently being regulated in California. So for the first hundred years of water regulation in California, groundwater wasn’t touched except through the courts. And so we’re currently in one of the largest social regulatory experiments in California currently, which is really interesting and also very challenging at the same time.
Douglas Tolley: And so the other thing that, the other basic part of groundwater system that you need to understand is what is an aquitard. And so if we look at sand grains, the sediment size is defined as somewhere between 2 to 0.05 millimeters, pretty small. But if you start looking at the size of silt, this would be roughly to the same scale. So much, much smaller. And then if we look at clay particles, there’s a little tiny dot there, which is actually too big. If I actually made it to scale in this figure, you wouldn’t actually be able to see it. So clay is very, very small relative to these sand grains. And so if we look at how water flows through these, on the left hand side with the sand aquifer, so these voids, the water is able to move through. You can think of this as kind of like a large room and we’re trying to pass a lot of people through. The bigger the room and the bigger the doorway, the easier it is for people to move through.
Douglas Tolley: Whereas these clay units and these silt units, one, because the particles are so small and then two, because of their actual shape, they tend to be these plate-y like materials. They kind of lay on top of each other. And so they take a lot longer and these more circuitous paths to go through. So these clay particles, when they get set down into these big, thick clay layers, it’s really hard for water to move through. It’s like having a really narrow hallway, and then the door is really, really small, too. So the number of people that you can actually move through in the same amount of time is much, much less compared to a room like this with a doorway that would maybe be twice as big. And so aquitards are basically zones that restrict the flow of groundwater from one place to another. And I’m not going to elaborate on this anymore, but this is how you can get confined and unconfined aquifers. You may have heard those terms before. If you’re curious about those, feel free to find me afterwards and I can explain them to you, but I’m not going to get into it for this presentation.
Douglas Tolley: And so another thing that people tend to not really understand is how groundwater flows. They just, they’ve heard about it, they know it exists, but they don’t understand fundamentally how groundwater flows through the system. And it’s really simple, honestly. It’s like a ball rolling down a hill. So the ball starts off at the top because it has a high potential energy and like everything else, it wants to move to a lower potential energy because of something called entropy. And so groundwater does the exact same thing. So we measure the energy of groundwater by going out and measuring a elevation, and that’s the amount of energy that it has. And so if we have two different wells that have these two different elevations, one has higher energy, one has lower energy, the water will want to move from left to right because it’s moving from high-energy to low energy. Same thing. It’s moving from uphill to downhill. And, yeah, so it’s again, it’s pretty simple and basic, it’s the devil’s-in-the-details when you start actually looking at groundwater flow.
Douglas Tolley: And it’s fundamentally governed by this really, really simple mass balance equation. It’s “in minus out is change in storage”. If your inputs are greater than your outputs, then your storage is going to increase, just like your bank account. If you’re putting more money in than you’re spending, your bank account balance is going to be going up. It’s the same thing with groundwater aquifers. The reverse is also true. If you’re not putting as much in and you’re taking a lot more out, then your storage is going to start going down. Pretty simple. What gets complicated is how we partition these inputs and these outputs. So typical inputs would be precipitation or recharge from irrigation, maybe there’s some lateral groundwater flow. So again, the devil’s-in-the-details is how we break these up. And then typical outputs would be like evapotranspiration, you can have runoff from the system, and it depends on which part of the system you’re looking at because some of these outflows can be inflows to another part of the system. So, for example, runoff from surface water may later percolate and become groundwater recharge later on. So you need to understand the entire water budget of the system to understand how much water you actually have that’s flowing through.
Douglas Tolley: And just to give you an idea of, I’ve stolen this from my advisor, Thomas Harder, and maybe made them a little prettier, but this is a schematic representation of a groundwater basin and how things operate. So if you imagine in the brown we have our aquifer. This would typically not be so homogenous. We’d like to think that aquifers are nice and uniform, but in reality they’re a mix of clays and sands and silts and their zones because they’re deposited by rivers which move and flow and change, but for the purposes we’re just gonna assume we have a nice homogenous aquifer system that’s surrounded by this bedrock system. So this would be what you’d see in the Napa Valley. So the mountains would be the bedrock, sort of like walls of a bathtub, and that bathtub is filled with sand. And so if we have some precipitation and some mountain front recharge that’s coming off, this would be run off from the mountains, eventually we’d start filling up this aquifer to the point where we intersect with the lowest elevation point in the watershed, which would be, is where our stream is coming in. And so what happens is this groundwater is now discharging because, again, higher elevations on the margins, because the aquifer can restrict a little bit of that groundwater flow, it’s not like it’s flowing through the surface, it flows very slowly, so it can mound on the edges. So higher elevations on the margins and lower elevation the middle. So we’re having flow down and then that water gets routed out of the system and that’s where you’d get, say, the Napa River.
Douglas Tolley: And so what happens when we start installing these groundwater wells, because, you know, we live in a Mediterranean climate, we have wet winters and dry summers so we don’t have precipitation available year round, so we can install these groundwater wells, and when we start pumping, we get what’s called a cone of depression around the well. So nearby, the water levels around the well are going to start going down. And we see at this point we have a gaining stream. So we still have these water levels on the margins that are higher than where the stream is, and so the water is going into the streams. The stream is gaining water as you’re moving down. If we keep pumping, so this would be at a later time, you notice that we’re not putting as much water into the stream. So this is what we term stream-flow depletion. So the stream is still gaining, but it’s not gaining as much as it was before we were pumping from those wells. And if we keep pumping throughout later in the year, let’s say we had a really dry year so we started pumping pretty early, eventually we get to what we call a neutral stream. So the stream is neither gaining nor losing water because the head in the stream is roughly about the same as what’s in the aquifer. So there’s no net exchange of water back or forth.
Douglas Tolley: And if we keep pumping, eventually we can get to what we call a losing stream. So now the heads in the stream are actually higher than what’s in the groundwater level, or the groundwater table, so the stream is actually going to be losing water, and if we keep the story up, we can actually get what we call disconnected streams. So these are what we see in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley, where their groundwater levels have dropped so low that now they’re streams are stranded and they’re essentially always losing. They’re not gaining. They’re no longer connected to the groundwater system. So that’s why we have those problems that Peter mentioned in Southern California, where the streams go dry during the summertime, because once the snowmelt is gone, then there’s nothing else to support that flow. And then in the wintertime, because again, we are a Mediterranean climate, so this isn’t a consistent problem for most of northern California, so in the wintertime, rains pick back up, we have some more precipitation that infiltrates down, and so these guys, the water levels start coming back up, and then you can rinse and repeat every single year. So a lot of the things that we’re looking at, you have to take into the context of, is this a wet year? Is it a dry year? It’s not just necessarily, it’s not that pumping is bad, it’s that it can have negative effects depending on how long it’s going on for, where they’re located, and especially if it’s located near sensitive, critical salmon habitat. So these are some of the things that we need to keep in mind.
Douglas Tolley: And I just want to end my presentation by saying this stream flow depletion part is really difficult to actually measure in the field because we don’t really have a good control. We can’t measure flow and then start pumping from a well and then go back and measure the flow because we can’t, we don’t have any control, unless it’s dam released, of what the actual flows are. And so typically the way that we try to measure this, I use “measure” in quotation marks, is by developing these integrated groundwater-surface water models. And these are our best tools for evaluating the stream flow depletion. Unfortunately, these are difficult to make and expensive, but currently they are our best tool for evaluating these type of stream flow depletions. And this figure on the left is just showing some mapping of stream flow depletions at, for different locations for wells that are being pumped. And this is from some research that we’ve done up in the Scott Valley in Northern California. I’m not going to go into any detail, if you’re curious about this afterwards, please come and talk to me. And that’s all I have. If you’re interested in this presentation, I have some thumb drives with it on there. And I’m more than happy to talk to you afterwards. And I’ll have Teri come up and do her presentation.
Teri Jo Barber: My name is Teri Jo Barber and I’m from Mendocino County, but I have worked in the Napa Valley with a fellow named Evan Engber, who operates a business called BioEngineering Associates. And I think Matt O’Connor also worked with Evan on this project. And I’m going to talk about my experience in Selby Creek, which is a Napa River tributary, near Bell Canyon Reservoir. It crosses Silverado Trail, where it’s called Dutch Henry or Biter Creek, where there, the two tributaries that are both good salmon bearing streams come together and they become Selby Creek at Silverado trail and then come on down and cross at Larkmead Lane and enter the Napa River at about 8200 feet.
Teri Jo Barber: Yes. OK. So this is kind of twisted on its side to try and make room for the slide. So this is an estimate of (oh, it is working) of how many Acre Feet are in each color band in the Napa River.
Teri Jo Barber: This slide talks about groundwater dependent ecosystems, which the Nature Conservancy coined as a way to talk about ecosystems that are, aquatic ecosystems that are dependent upon groundwater inflow. And as you can see, here’s the Napa River. And (let’s see the bottom one, did you say the bottom one? no, the top one is the pointer.) OK. So my study area at Selby Creek is up here in this area and it does in fact have a green line which indicates, groundwater dependent ecosystems here.
Teri Jo Barber: Um, Rich already talked about this, or Gus already talked about this, but this was my slide in case he didn’t cover it, but he did. Um, that’s Selby Creek being recharged by groundwater coming up into it.
Teri Jo Barber: And this is how water gets pulled out of the creek, in the alluvial aquifer right next to the creek, which happens in Selby Creek, like in a place like this. This is a big water well right in Selby Creek. This is, that’s Selby Creek down there, and here’s a big well going up to irrigate a lot of the vineyards on the alluvial floodplain.
Teri Jo Barber: Ok. This is my one cartoon. Um, I talked to landowners along the banks of Selby Creek when I was walking around out there, and a lot of them had the same story that they had when they were kids. Their grandfathers well was, you know, they could dip their bucket into the well and just unwind it a few strands and get down there about 20 feet and you got water. Then later, um, the groundwater has been depleted somewhat and the water table is deeper and you need more windes to get your bucket all the way down. And at the end of the day, the children’s well has to be a lot deeper to get to the groundwater.
Teri Jo Barber: Okay. The groundwater dependent ecosystems, it’s not just about the water, but also about shading the stream to keep the evaporation down and keep the water temperatures low. So if you strand the water table too far from the root zone of the trees and the plants, then you won’t have anything green there to shade the creek, and that gets back to the habitat that Peter was talking about. You can wet a habitat, but if you don’t have shade and if you don’t have structure, then you’re not gonna really get a response from the fishes or the other critters that you’re trying to manage for.
Teri Jo Barber: Ok. Here we are. It’s a topographic map. And let’s see, here is the Dutch Henry Creek Canyon watershed. Here’s Biter keep coming this way. And then the waters collect right here at the Silverado trail. And then here’s Selby Creek coming down, there is Larkmead Lane, and it comes into the Napa River after a sharp bend.
Teri Jo Barber: Um, same picture, but this you see what it looks like. And you can kind of see where Selby Creek wanders around, and you can see it’s got some sinuosity left, but the vineyards have really encroached onto it. You have some little islands where you have riparian forests still, but a lot of it is pretty devoid of the streamside trees, which are so important to the functional ecosystem.
Teri Jo Barber: OK. So here is Selby Creek, kind of enumerated in terms of distance downstream from the Silverado trail. Up there. You can see also the riparian forests, there’s Larkmead Lane. And down here to where the, uh, riparian quarter is much thicker and there’s actually water in here. Most of the stream is completely dry all summer long. There was one, uh, residual pool that was wet in our pretreatment studies. It’s somewhere around here. And then when we went back to post-treatment, it was dry all summer long.
Teri Jo Barber: Okay, so these are a bunch of shots from the plane and you can see this white kind of area here is kind of a dried up algae that kind of makes a white color stain on all the rocks. And it’s dry.
Teri Jo Barber: And then here it is after we did some treatments, um, which include some scouring type of structures that confine the water and dig pools that hopefully will sustain themselves over time. We got super lucky and I was able to get the pilot to come out right after a storm. And so you can see how the channel looks wetted, but it’s not often very wet. In fact, it spends, like I said, all summer long, dry.
Teri Jo Barber: More dry channel.
Teri Jo Barber: Here’s wetted after that storm. You can see some of these structures when Peter talked about habitat restoration, this is what it looks like here. These rock structures that are meant to confine the flow and direct it. This is 2007. These photos.
Teri Jo Barber: And then, there’s me. This is what the Selby Creek channel really looks like, most of it, at least before treatment, just dry and full of cobbles and sand like the alluvial aquifer. I’m just gonna flick through these because they’re mostly the same. This is Larkmead Lane. This is the bridge at Larkmead Lane, and I think that’s upstream, and then, after we put these structures in. And we also did a bunch of native revegetation on the floodplains and the streambanks.
Teri Jo Barber: Here you see the riparian corridor getting thicker (whoa) right in here. I think that some of the landowners in the area kind of like to incorporate their own architecture in with the creek. And it really looks good. Here again, it looks really good.
Teri Jo Barber: This is getting close to the Napa River. See how wide it is and the variety of trees.
Teri Jo Barber: Woody debris, one of my favorite things. It’s cheap, it’s available. And when these trees fall in, you can really grab hold of it and use it to make habitat. And, um, the woody habitat will decompose over time and sustain the stream with nutrients and also provide lots of nooks and crannies for insects and fishes.
Teri Jo Barber: There’s that piece of wood again, we didn’t harness it and it just washed downstream, but it kind of locked up in position to sustain a little while.
Teri Jo Barber: So this is some of the better – I think that the higher quality restoration projects we did were knitting together the standing trees and the boulders, and tried to keep them around. One of the projects we had was called Legacy Trees, where we had took the largest trees that were alive when we did our survey and we tagged them with numbers to come back later and see how many of them were still alive. Because, like that earlier slide I showed where you see the water table and you see the kind of the root zone, well, if the trees can’t get to the water, if their roots are too short or the water table is too shallow, they can’t keep growing and they will die. And then, regardless of what kind of land manager you are, if you’re not able to control the groundwater, well, you’re going to lose your riparian trees and then you lose the shade and you lose the coolness.
Teri Jo Barber: Ok, so at this point I’m going to segue into things you can do to restore your creek. This picture is what I found when we came back from lunch. Um, one of our guys working was just taking some refuge under the eroded roots of this giant Bay Laurel tree that was one of the only trees standing in this particular reach. It was shading the water and there wasn’t many, uh, shading trees in this reach. And so we tried to save it. And here’s what we did. We drove these posts all around the outside of the root, but you can see it’s got a big cavity underneath it, where this guy’s resting. And then we wove these willow branches all around, made a big giant basket, and we packed it with sand and some compost. We tried to get the roots to regrow through there.
Teri Jo Barber: And this is what it looked like after, so it’s still alive. And the tree is still alive and looks pretty good.
Teri Jo Barber: This is right downstream of Silverado Trail on the downstream left bank, and it was vertical and it was dry and it was rocky. And then we put a bunch of Willows in here, laid them against the bank, stuck them in the, uh, water table. And we were able to grow a bunch of Willow there, and it looks super good.
Teri Jo Barber: Another thing that worked out really good is we put these alternating deflectors in. So the water comes down, it bangs on this one, it moves over around here, side to side, boom, boom, boom, you get a meander, you get these pools digging out where the water will stick around for a while.
Teri Jo Barber: Um, vortex rock weirs to funnel the water into the center so that you get a big dig in the bottom here and you get a pool over time, hopefully long enough to keep these fish around while they’re trying to migrate up into the Dutch Henry Biter Creek headwaters where they spawn.
Teri Jo Barber: And this is another one. So this is a root. It’s part of this big tree up here that’s got these lateral roots coming down and across the way (whoa, where is it) and so what we did here is we hand packed rock around this root and was able to make kind of a deflector here.
Teri Jo Barber: More about reseeding on the banks.
Teri Jo Barber: This is my favorite project. Um, this was a tall, eroded vertical stream bank before we worked on it. I don’t have a pre-treatment picture, I’m sorry. But, we built these double-woven Willow walls that are anchored with like big, giant, thick two to three-inches Willow posts, pounded deep into the ground as far as you can. And then braided with Willow whips all around. And this is it growing in, it looks awesome. And then over time, we still have this thing. And you see it’s wetted there too.
Teri Jo Barber: We did some California native bunch grass, um, transplanting.
Teri Jo Barber: Here’s another great thing. This was a Legacy Tree, like I told you about these trees that, the few left, that look like they were vulnerable, we packed them with rock. This is a vertical eroded streambank, we laid it back, we rocked the toe, we put a bunch of Willow in, and we’re saving this tree. It’s right out of view in this picture.
Teri Jo Barber: Some streambanks have been eroding for a long time and people put a lots of different stuff in there to check the erosion, but not all of them great. In this particular project, we pulled five cars out of here. And replaced them with big, big giant logs, which fish like.
Teri Jo Barber: Here’s another tall, vertical eroded streambank. It’s that tall. I tried to look at the numbers to figure out how tall. I couldn’t read the stadia rod. Um, there was a bunch of material that was stacked up over here just out of the previous picture. Big giant deposit here because of all the stuff that was eroding out here and kind of landed here, the stream cut through it and left this big giant, which is not here anymore, big giant load of alluvium, which we dozed back up onto the hill, up there, onto the streambank, actually. And then we put these trenches in where we packed this Willow in these big bands.
Teri Jo Barber: And that’s what it looked like four years later.
Teri Jo Barber: Another pre and post-treatment vertical streambank before; recontoured, revegetated after.
Teri Jo Barber: Same thing. We’ve go these big eroding streambanks and we’re trying to revegetate them to shade the creek and stop the erosion. So we re-shape them and then we try to get stuff growing.
Teri Jo Barber: Rocks and logs and Willow, basically. Rocks and Willow. Rocks and Willow. Rocks and Willow, and equipment.
Teri Jo Barber: And a little bit of wetlands restoration. This was, here, dry because the water has been redirected by roads and, um, trying to keep the roads dry. So they redirect the water and you lose your wetland. But then you can just put it back, put the water back.
Teri Jo Barber: This is one of my favorite projects, I have to say. Because, by the time we got our permit to go, it was already in the winter and we were working on this trying to keep this landslide from dripping all this mud and muck into the creek below. And, um, every time a car would drive by, the road is up here, right up, just beyond here, back here somewhere, and the car would drive by and the whole thing was like Jell-O. And it would go bubububububububu, and you thought the whole thing was going to come out from under us. It was quite liquid. But you see down here in the bottom, this lowest one’s kind of like a filter, an organic filter with Willow posts and Willow whips as tight as possible, so whatever would come down here would stack up behind the walls. It worked really good.
Teri Jo Barber: And this is our crew.
Teri Jo Barber: And these are notes that I thought I would need. But, um, I didn’t really need it cause you had a really good job on this groundwater presentation.
Teri Jo Barber: Oh, so this is though, I wanted to use this graph because I think this kind of indicates, if this is the watertable up here, this is kind of rainfall, right, and the water table comes up in the creek and it goes down, it comes up and it goes down and then it stays down. And then down here you have the groundwater wells, and the water table is deep, and then it’s high and it can wet the water, wet the creek. And then the creek’s gonna go dry if the watertable is way down here, like Selby Creek. I mean, it’s an alluvial aquifer, the water freely moves from point A to point B. So if you’re sucking it out from a well, it’s going to draw it out really fast, and you’re gonna have a lot of good irrigation water, but you’re going to leave this baby dry and then it can’t really sustain the groundwater dependent ecosystems.
Teri Jo Barber: I wanted to bring this slide up because I found this online. It’s a U.S.G.S. um, report from 1949. Their data is from, oh, well their data goes from 1926 to 1951, and they have a bunch of test wells, that may or may not be findable again and reproduced, but it looks like the groundwater table which is up here, up and down with the rain, which is logged in down here – big rain, you get a higher watertable, and it looks like everything is just more or less sustainable over time.
Teri Jo Barber: And then you get these. This next research effort is CASGEM. I can’t remember what it stands for, California something. They have a whole bunch of wells being monitored in the Napa Valley. And not just the Napa Valley, in the Sonoma volcanics on the hills, too. And they claim that the groundwater is being sustained year to year, you know, maybe with some deeper valleys when when we’ve had a really dry year, but then it’s replenished in the next year when we have a good winter. But, um, and maybe that’s true, I guess they say that’s true so it probably is, but, I just kind of have a hard time believing that after watching Selby Creek, which looks like it is not very well sustained because like I said, the creek is dry all summer long.
Teri Jo Barber: This one looks like we’re doing a pretty good job sustaining it, but you see the trend line has the groundwater table lower, and lower. And so this is not really looking completely sustainable to me, or sustained.
Teri Jo Barber: And this is another one that shows the groundwater table declining in elevation.
Teri Jo Barber: More. OK.
Teri Jo Barber: I just wanted to say something about refugia, which I think speaks to what Peter was saying about if you dump a bunch of water in a concrete lined canal, okay, it’s wet, but it doesn’t have a functional habitat to sustain whatever it is you’re trying to save. And so, I know water is precious, that there’s a lot of beneficial uses, people, wine, grapes, critters. Maybe, something to aspire to is to find places where we can have water and we can have habitat together and we can nurture these critters and get them from point A to point B where they reproduce and then back again where they can stay. And I’d like to call that Refugio, and um, because it is a refuge. And now that we have such drastic decline in our native species of fishes, that are so water dependent, if we could find places where landowners are willing to maybe have a mitigation bank where they kind of let the water be, and places that have shade trees that can sustain that ecosystem, I think that we could maybe have a win-win. I feel very encouraged by the stuff that I heard today in the Putah Creek watershed and here in the Napa River.
Teri Jo Barber: So I think that’s the end. That’s me.
Rich Pauloo: So while this is getting set up, I’ll just say this is sort of the other half of the groundwater talk, and I’ll actually talk a bit about CASGEM, which Teri touched on. And most of my work is in the Central Valley. I should say what my name is. I’m Rich. My name’s Rich Pauloo, and I’m calling my talk “Peril and Promise”. The peril is groundwater overdraft and specifically some of the more extreme consequences of it, that we observe in the Central Valley of California where most of my work takes place. The promise here that I’m going to tell you, I think the promise here is next generation groundwater monitoring, and what we can do with data. So I hope to talk about both of those as I go along.
Rich Pauloo: I’m going to start with the key takeaways. So if you blackout during the presentation or fall asleep, just remember these four things and you will have seen it all. But I assure you, the rest of the presentation is going to be good, so stick around. Groundwater overdraft, here we go. I’ll define that in the next slide, but it’s essentially running a deficit in your groundwater account and it’s highly undesirable. We want to stay away from groundwater overdraft. I’ll show you examples of how bad it can be. We’ll talk about some of the extreme consequences of overdraft. I’m going to focus on two in particular, land subsidence and well failure, or dry wells.
Rich Pauloo: And then the promise, are that data and models can stand in and help us provide risk mitigation and decision support for groundwater and surface water monitoring and management because they are really part of the same cycle. And lastly, the data from these monitoring networks is here. The technology is here today. It just takes the political will and it takes, it takes knowing what you want. So we’ll talk a bit about that.
Rich Pauloo: So first of all, what is groundwater overdraft? Well, it’s kind of like a bank account. So think of your groundwater as your money, but, and the bank account is underground and the water is the money. So every month you get money into your bank account and you take money out of it. And if more money comes in than what goes out, well, then you’re in a surplus. You’re saving money, the same with groundwater. If more water leaves your bank account than what comes in, you’re in a state of deficit. And so you’re running an overdraft. So this figure right here is about a century of time in the Central Valley. And we’re looking at three different sub basins. And on the y axis, you’re looking at the storage change. So it’s not hard to tell that the blue line, which is represented by the southern Central Valley, Tulare Basin, has lost about 140 million acre feet of water in the last century, roughly speaking. So compare that to San Joachin Basin and Sacramento Valley, which have done a bit better in terms of overdraft. Just to give you a sense of how much water that is, the total combined surface water storage capacity of all of California’s reservoirs, you add up Shasta and Orville and so forth, comes out to 55 million acre feet. So this is roughly three times the total storage capacity of all of the reservoirs. That’s not coming back. So you want to avoid that.
Rich Pauloo: One of the extreme consequences of overdraft, in addition to just losing this water, is the actual subsiding of the earth. And I’ll talk about how that works. So we’re zoomed into an aquitard here. Gus talked about those in his talk where, there are these clay lenses, they’re kind of like, dishes in a sink. And they’re all jumbled up and there’s water in between them. When you pump sufficiently hard from these aquifers, you can suck water out of these aquitards causing the clay particles to settle and stack. And so it’s, it’s like you’re organizing the dishes in your sink, and consequently there’s less water in the interpore space. That extracted water leaves and something has to compensate for that. And that’s the subsidence of the land. You can get permanent loss of storage space, where you’re unable to prop the dishes back up again and get the water in. And in addition, you can make the land sink, which has consequences, which we’ll talk about in a sec.
Rich Pauloo: So here’s some pictures of the consequences of overdraft. This is a – you can see that that’s a well on the far left, and the wellhead was installed. And clearly, this owner was not considering the amount of land subsidence that would take place, and the ground has literally sunk around that well shaft about 10 feet. This middle picture, which the gentleman in the audience pointed out and wanted me to talk about, shows a location in the San Joaquin Valley of California, on the top 1925, the bottom 1977. That’s about thirty feet of subsidence. And so those markers are indicating where the land surface once was. They’ve repeated this experiment, we’re measuring subsidence with satellites today. And the land is still sinking.
Rich Pauloo: So let’s talk about what – I mean, so what, the land is sinking, big deal. Well, it is a big deal, that it costs millions of dollars in damage, particularly for water conveyance infrastructure that needs the ground to hold it up. So when the ground starts sinking, you can reverse the flow in some of these systems where the natural gradient is what’s sending the water down. And so then how do you fix that? You have to stick pumps in there, move the water, that’s really expensive. Researchers at Stanford also discovered something really interesting, it was published in Nature, which is a huge scientific journal. And they found that when you pump, when you take this water out of clays, clays have a natural affinity for arsenic, which is naturally occurring, but it’s also a contaminant. (I try to limit my intake of arsenic) And, the clay water, which is rich in arsenic, when you’re squeezing water out of these clays, you end up inserting more arsenic into your source groundwater. So this is also a problem with with overpumping. This map on the right shows locations. Red areas corresponding to more overdraft and more land subsidence. This is measured by the USGS. The darkest areas are about 30 feet of subsidence in the 50 year period from 1926 to 1970, roughly 50 years.
Rich Pauloo: I’m going to talk about a second extreme consequence of groundwater overdraft, now. Remember, which is that running a negative balance in your groundwater system, and that is well failure, otherwise called dry well. So this is a very simplified diagram where we have these cones of depression and very heterogeneous aquifers, so bear with me here, but generally, this is how it works. You have these straws into the aquifer, which are like your wells. And you can have a shallow and a deep well, they’re both active at some time. And the groundwater level is indicated by this upside down blue triangle. Let’s say you’re pumping from both of these wells, and the pumps are these blue dots. If you pump enough, and the water table declines, like Teri was showing in those hydrographs, what you’ll see over time is that these shallow wells will tend to go dry.
Rich Pauloo: And this was a huge problem in the Central Valley during the 2012 to 2016 drought. Pictures like this were not uncommon. And the State had to write out 35 million in drought related assistance, primarily for emergency water tanks and bottled water deliveries. This was the state of California’s response. It was just something we were completely unprepared for.
Rich Pauloo: We saw that the consequences were very large. We saw 2,027 reported domestic well failures. And so you can imagine that number is a lot higher. People won’t report for different reasons that you can imagine. Some people didn’t know they could report or were afraid of authorities. So looking at the Central Valley in California and in figure A. In blue is the location of every domestic well that we have a record for. And in red are the reported locations of the well failures to the State. In panel B is the groundwater level change observed during that drought, which in some places was up to 50 feet of groundwater level change over that four year period. So, so why did it change so much during that time? There wasn’t available surface water and so we used groundwater. Regardless of where you’re at in California, it’s a Mediterranean climate. You’re going to get some wet years and some dry years. And this was a particularly bad dry year, something like we haven’t seen before.
Rich Pauloo: This is incredible data. And so because we have this incredible data, it’s going to enable what I showed you, what I show you next. And so what we did next is we built a model. We took all of this data and we said, well, we haven’t seen five year droughts, we haven’t seen six or seven or eight year droughts. How bad could those be? So we had an idea of how much the groundwater level changed in the last drought. So we simulated future unseen droughts and just asked the question, how many wells would fail since we know where all these wells are? We have the data. And we found the consequences are pretty severe. So if you imagine, remember in that four year observed drought from 2012 to 2016, we saw 2,000 well failures. In an eight year drought, we would expect anywhere from 6,000 – 8,000 failures according to our model. So on the left hand pair of each plot are the locations of predicted well failures. And on the right hand pair is a heat map where red is, there’s more failure there.
Rich Pauloo: We also wanted to understand how groundwater management would impact well failure. So if you’re just declining groundwaters at a historical rate, some sort of business-as-usual scenario, how many well failures would you expect? And if you say, were very strict about your sustainability and you weren’t going to let groundwater decline anymore, you’re gonna let it go down for a couple of years and then you were going to stop it – you can read about it, there’s a paper that details all of this – but we basically found that the more strict you are about your sustainability, the less well failures you experience, which makes sense because it was directly tied to how much groundwater level we allowed the groundwater to decline by. And so the left hand plot of each pair is the change in groundwater level. Red is more draw-down and the right hand plot of each pair are the locations of well failure. But California is a variable climate. And so we based this groundwater level decline on a 1998 to 2017 period, which was relatively wet. What if we based it, what if we looked at one of the drier periods? What if we got more dry years?
Rich Pauloo: So we also toggled the hydrologic uncertainty and we actually did this with Alvar Escriva-Bou, he’s a research fellow at PPIC. We really want to understand this. And we found that you can get much more severe well failure if it’s sufficiently dry and people pump more. And so this lines up with our model of the system.
Rich Pauloo: And so there’s a saying, some of you may have heard this saying, I really love this saying. I have no idea who W. Edwards Deming is, but I really like this saying. And so you might have heard it “in God we trust, all others must bring data.” I really wanted to put this in for the talk. And then I started, you know, Google just starts suggesting images to you. So there’s like cups you can buy. And there’s a pillow, a house pillow. I thought that was funny. Someone at their workplace got a graffiti artist to just write, just tag this in the workplace. And then there are more products, they just take God out altogether here, “in data we trust.”
Rich Pauloo: So I’m getting into the promise section of the talk. So if that was the peril, I think the promise here are these next generation groundwater monitoring tools. And so some other work that we’ve done in our lab is we’ve instrumented various sections of, or various basins. We’re working in about four basins in the Cosumnes and Shasta, Siskiyou and Scotts Valleys. And we have this on the left hand side is a sensor that’s deployed into a monitoring well. And there’s a little antenna you can see and that sends data every day over a wireless sensor network to our lab. And we have a data pipeline that cleans the data, does some automated QAQC. And then I just log on every day and I check this out. And we can set the permissions for different users to, who wants to see the data. And control, who sees that. But this gives us a real time feedback into our groundwater system and really enables the risk mitigation and management of the resource.
Rich Pauloo: So here are some pictures from an early dashboard we made in the Cosumnes River basin that shows, it’s showing the data for one of these wells and you can click on different wells and see different data.
Rich Pauloo: And here’s the data for the entire network. You’re looking at hourly data over a five, roughly five year period from 2013 to 2020. And you can see that red trend line is the average of all the wells, and all the wells are shown in gray. So this gives us a nice snapshot into the health of our system. You can see these spikes, they correspond with recharge events during the winter, and these depressions in the troughs are when we’re pumping during the summer.
Rich Pauloo: So how does this all work? This is the anatomy of of these monitoring systems. In letter A. I’m showing a few groundwater monitoring sensors deployed at wells. In B, that’s the telemetry unit. That’s actually the expensive part. So what we’ve done, I think this is kind of clever, is we hook up multiple sensors to one telemetry unit so you can measure rainfall and soil moisture, and barometric pressure, and precipitation with a tipping bucket, and electrical conductivity, salinity. So we could hook all that stuff up to telemetry and then every day it sends it over a wireless network and then it sends it to some database either locally or in the cloud, doesn’t matter. But ultimately we clean it all up, QAQC it, push it to the cloud, and then make it accessible to users via an application. And we can control the permissions of that application.
Rich Pauloo: So we have that working. We have 15 minute interval data now in three basins, which has been phenomenal for management. And we’re using that as part of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan in some of these basins. So why monitor in the first place? That sounds like a huge waste of time, right? Well, monitoring is really good for decision support, for risk mitigation, to facilitate modeling. So if you really wanted to make any sort of integrated surfacewater-groundwater model that Gus talked about, data is where you start. And it also helps you understand your history. And you get to really see, how is the health of this ecosystem performing over time? And, do we want to change how it performs in the future? We’re going to need data to inform that whole process.
Rich Pauloo: So I actually take a look at CASGEM. I have no idea what the groundwater system in Napa is like. So I log onto CASGEM and there are roughly 30 to 40 biannual monitoring wells. These are people who go out, the Department of Water Resources goes out and measures the groundwater level twice a year. And so you have about 60 to 80 annual samples. And whether or not that’s enough really depends on your monitoring and management goals. So I can’t say if this is enough or not, it really depends on what Napa’s groundwater and surfacewater goals are.
Rich Pauloo: And this is my last slide, so I want to leave you with this farewell tale. It is the tale of the Veihmeyer 242 fridge. This is the fridge in my office. This is a tale of neglect and catastrophe. And what happened is that for five years we, the stakeholders of Veihmeyer 242, we just neglected our fridge. We just kept the door shut. It was out of sight, out of mind. And every time we looked, we were like, “Oh, that’s really bad. Let’s close it.” And this ice sheet grew and grew and eventually engulfed the Tupperware, and started pressing and creeking and breaking the plastic that held the Tupperware. And, we just ignored it. It was a common resource and we kind of wasted it. And this kind of reminds me of water, groundwater, I mean. Groundwater is hard to see. It kind of sounds imaginary, like does groundwater even exist? I can’t see it. And it’s out of sight and out of mind. It took a courageous graduate student to turn the dial zero, and pull it out one day. And today, I can happily say, the health of the fridge is a lot better. But it really took bold action. I think groundwater’s the same way. It’s hard to imagine, it’s out of sight, out of mind.
Rich Pauloo: But you really want, you want to avoid those highly undesirable consequences of groundwater overdraft, which can include land subsidence and well failure. And the Central Valley is more than enough evidence to show you what is possible, if you keep that fridge door closed. And to that effect, I think the starting point is data and models. And, understanding what question you want to answer, and what your goals are, and then you can work backwards and figure out what data and models do I need to get there.
Rich Pauloo: So that’s it. The slides, if you want them, are at this talk. Most of the material I showed you is in some form on my website, richpauloo.com, and I tweet about this stuff, too. And I want to thank my sponsors. Thank you.
Rich Marovich: My name is Rich Marovich. I’m the Putah Creek Streamkeeper. I’ve been in that position for 20 years and, going on 20 years, and I’d like to say, first of all, we live in a time of massive institutional failure. Think about all the things in this world that are headed in a bad direction. And one of the reasons why I think that has occurred is that traditionally we’ve relied upon experts and authorities to solve problems, and that works for simple problems. But something as complex as a watershed can only be solved if all of us are involved. So we can’t turn to experts and authorities who have absolute answers. Science informs where we are, but the solutions are going to depend upon human engagement and human interactions over time.
Rich Marovich: You know, we heard a lot about the systems that support our groundwater, surface water, our fish and our ecosystems as a whole. But oftentimes we forget the role that people play. Or at least when we’re talking about scientific issues, we’re talking about them as if they had numerical solutions, and they really don’t. What they have is, they inform us as to what is possible, but it’s up to ourselves, up to humans, to decide what happens next. So here’s where we are. We’re confronted with these problems, problems that were, largely, not understood until fairly recently. Now we’re coming to terms with them, we’re coming together as a community. And as a community, we can solve these problems. I don’t think there is any other way than, engagement of the community to solve these problems.
Rich Marovich: You know, in the 1960s, there was an expression that if you weren’t part of the solution, then you were part of the problem. Well, as a terrific author, Adam Kahane, has said, actually, if you’re not part of the problem, you can’t possibly be part of the solution. So if you’re not in the community, if you’re not an actor or a stakeholder, then you’re not connected to the system enough to help provide a solution. So the solutions come from actors and stakeholders. The solutions come from the community. And the assurances that each of us want, cannot come from within our own interest groups. They have to come from the people that we regard as rivals or the people that we regard as other. And so by enabling and empowering each other, that’s how we can get to a better future. I’ve been working at this, almost 20 years on Putah Creek, and prior to that I worked throughout the State on endangered species issues, working with local communities to solve problems. And there wasn’t a single problem that came up that we couldn’t find a solution for. And it’s not a question of right and wrong. It’s a question of better or worse. And that future is ours to shape and take hold of and make the world a better place. And by being here in this room, this is the first step to making the world a better place.
Rich Marovich: So with that, I’d like to tell you a little bit about Putah Creek as a success story. We’re almost 20 years ahead in terms of organizing, at least, with respect to our Putah Creek watershed. This photo is from a, signing ceremony of the Putah Creek Accord. The Putah Creek Accord was an agreement that came after 10 years of litigation, fighting over how much water should be released into Putah Creek. And, the signing ceremony was from the original parties to the litigation. And they basically broke down along county lines where the Solano parties were the ones who were interested in the water supply. The Solano project, which is Lake Berryessa, Putah diversion dam and Putah south canal, provides water to 400,000 municipal water users. Very significant to the economy of Solano County. But the Yolo parties were the ones who initiated a lawsuit to provide enough water in the creek to keep fish alive. And so it came down as, a battle between these interests that came from the two different counties. And what they came up with, which I think was brilliant, instead of trying to divine a solution for all time, they said, we’re gonna form a committee and we’re going to manage this resource together into the future. And that committee was made up of litigants who fought each other for 10 years, came together, started working together and achieved great things together. That could not have happened except, I think, in this structure which emphasizes that communities manage watersheds.
Rich Marovich: Let’s see. Ok. So this is Putah Creek. We’ve seen some maps of it already, so I’ll go quickly through this. Our creek flows out of Lake Berryessa almost due east to the Yolo bypass and then from there into a network of canals and sloughs eventually connecting with the Sacramento River at Rio Vista. And, this is the way that salmon make their way up into Putah Creek. And a little bit of a spoiler alert, we started out with about a dozen salmon per year in the early years of the Putah Creek Accord, over the last five years, we’ve had over 500 fish per year. And, as a result of community action.
Rich Marovich: Just another close up. The creek flows through the cities of Winters and Davis.
Rich Marovich: And this is the biggest hydraulic feature in the system, this is Monticello Dam. This is the glory hole. It’s called the glory hole because it looks like a Morning Glory flower. And, the spillway is, near the top center, where the water comes out down below. But I love this picture because it illustrates that most of the water, is stored, most of the time. And the releases are a tiny fraction of the historic flows. In fact, we used to have flows of 5,000 CFS, practically every year, before the dam. Now that would be a 5-year peak flow event. So we have much less water in this system than we did prior to Monticello Dam, but we have a more secure water supply, we have a steady water supply. And the Putah Creek Accord turned Putah Creek into a perennially flowing stream. That was part of the resolution of the, water supply issue for Putah Creek.
Rich Marovich: And this is Putah diversion dam, and off the right hand side, you’ll see the headworks to Putah south canal. This is how 400,000 municipal water users get the bulk of their water and it also irrigates up to 70,000 acres of farmland.
Rich Marovich: And the flow litigation was from 1990 to 2000. Putah Creek Council formed in 1988 as a public interest advocacy group to promote the enjoyment of Putah Creek as a resource. And they started out doing events like bird-watching, and trash cleanup events, and things like that. But then soon after they were formed, we entered into a 7-year drought. And, um, this graph shows the acre feet of water storage in Lake Berryessa. And so, the water level in Berryessa during this drought, which was from about 87 to 90, ended in 94, I believe. The water level was dropping about 200,000 acre feet per year. And, by the time it reached its lowest point, the town of Monticello was actually emerging from the lake. And this was terrifying to a water agency. And so at the very time when the water supply looked like it was about to run out, Putah Creek Council was asking the water agency to send more water down the creek. So it was a very tough conversation to have. And the water agency at the time felt that they could simply outlast any environmental challenge. And so they fought it, rather bitterly. Until the, 94 when the lake, filled almost to spilling in subsequent years. It did spill, the red line is the spill point. So I think because the dialogue had gotten started and because the water level had recovered in the Lake, it was easier to talk about a solution. And political leadership had changed over that period of time, and that may have had something to do with it as well. But, finally, by the year 2000, the parties were ready to come together and work together toward a better future.
Rich Marovich: And this was the, financing of the Accord. The annual budget was $160,000 a year, $110,000 of that was for monitoring. We’ve heard, a lot of talk about the benefits of monitoring, the essentiality of monitoring. Most of our budget was reserved for monitoring. The vegetation management we had for weed control, $10,000 dollars. Streamkeeper salary, $40,000. And then a one time basic grant from Solano County Water Agency of $250,000. These were the starting resources. And, the emphasis was on wildlife monitoring. The emphasis was on learning over time. And, that should always be our emphasis. Because with complex problems, you have to try things. Peter Moyle talked about risk taking. We have to try things to learn. And the learning cycle is basically: plan, do, check, and adjust. And all four steps are essential. And then you repeat. And you take the lessons learned from your last plan and you apply them to your next plan and you get smarter over time. And the system works better over time because it’s continuous learning.
Rich Marovich: This is, uh, just a summation of all the grant money that we’ve attracted. So over almost 20 years we’ve attracted $14 million dollars for physical and biological assessments of Putah Creek, for geomorphic restoration projects, and for controlling invasive weeds, for removing trash, for planting native vegetation.
Rich Marovich: And for us, once the parties to the litigation came together and started working together, it was like playing a winning hand. I wrote most of these proposals and we had unusual success winning grant money because the community had come together and was working collectively to solve this problem.
Rich Marovich: And we, (thank you) and this is an example of one of the initiatives that we did. We realized, because of the monitoring, that the gravel in the bottom of Putah Creek had become embedded in fines. It’s a process called cementation. And what it means is that the bottom of the creek becomes like asphalt. And the fish can no longer spawn in the gravel on the floor of the creek. The aquatic insects can no longer live in the floor of the creek because it’s like asphalt. And so the solution was to try to break through this crust, this hard crust. And we didn’t know if it was just a veneer of gravel or if there was actually more gravel underneath. But what we found was with one of these mini excavators, we reach into the creek and loosen the gravel, break through that crust. And we found deep and loose gravel underneath. And the salmon took to these sites and spawned in them, in record numbers. In fact, they preferentially spawn in the sites where we had done this treatment. Now, this treatment is very economical. We can do about a mile of river channel in a day. And the reason why it takes a day to do it is mostly because excavators don’t move very fast. They move at about five miles an hour. But the actual reaching in, loosening the gravel, very straightforward. It’s something that we may have to repeat from time to time, this is where adaptive management comes in, because we don’t know how long this benefit will last, but we know each year that we do it, the salmon respond and they spawn preferentially in these sites that were taken care of (thank you).
Rich Marovich: And this is how the salmon have responded. Our first scarification trial was in 2013. By 2015, we were having our first Winters Salmon Festival and we’ve had salmon festivals the first Saturday of November ever since. And, it is a really exciting story, that of taking the power of human intention and making something really great happen in the environment. In fact, in one of these Winters Salmon Festivals, as the festival is concluding, they had this line of dancers dressed in costumes, led by a couple of people dressed in salmon, and they had a little like samba band playing a little rhythm. And they were marching over the Winters car bridge over the, Putah Creek. And as they were marching across the creek, the first salmon of the year arrived. It was magical. And I think it’s just further evidence of the power of human intention.
Rich Marovich: And this is a very busy slide and I apologize for that, but this is from our annual report and it summarizes 20 years of history or almost 20 years. The graph on the (um. Let’s see. I think we have a pointer here) Well, this, graph in the upper left is, basically the fund raising that we’ve done over that period of time. So it started off kind of slow, but it has been a steady rise. And, we’re now up to, a total of about $20 million or about a million dollars a year.
Rich Marovich: On the right hand side, equally important, is, the increase in co-operative landowners. When I first started in, 2000, there were 5 landowners out of 100, that were ready to do good things for Putah Creek. And the landowners had been kind of suspicious of the settlement agreement. They hadn’t really been an active part of it. In fact, they were sort of resisting it because they thought it was a water grab instead of litigation to provide environmental water. The water agency tried to adjudicate the water supply because they were fearful that if they release more water down the creek, farmers who have senior riparian rights would just take that additional water. And the agency was required by the settlement agreement to replace that water and then determine if any individual diverter was pumping an excessive amount of water. Well, I don’t think the landowners ever understood that because the agency never really had a dialogue with them. They sent them threatening letters. And you can imagine, you know, receiving threatening letters, you think, well, they’re at an adversarial position. What they didn’t explain to people is that, to adjudicate a water supply, you have to get all the landowners to the table. And the only way to get all the landowners to the table was through a lawsuit.
Rich Marovich: So the agency sued the landowners to come forward and say how much water they wanted, so that water could be allocated, so everyone could count on a – what was gonna happen next. Unfortunately, because the landowners really didn’t want to participate in that, they were very suspicious of it, the settlement was signed without landowner participation. So, 75% of the land on Putah Creek is privately owned. And the only way I can work with those landowners is if they’re willing and see the value and want to engage. And so, the agency decided, okay, the adjudication wasn’t working, so they dropped that effort and subsequently admitted it was a mistake and they wouldn’t have done things that way again.
Rich Marovich: But for the first eight years of the Accord, everything was fine. You know, we had three occasions where farmers were taking more water than what was available, and each of those three cases we were able to have a dialogue with the landowner who was pumping, say, can you turn your pump off for a couple of days? We’ll send some more water down the creek we’ll accommodate your diversion. So it really wasn’t costing the water agency nearly the water they thought to satisfy riparian demand. And in fact, these landowners had senior riparian rights. They were entitled to the water, but that entitlement was not unlimited. And they were entitled to the water that would have been there, in the absence of Monticello Dam. And that was obviously a calculation. But we know historically that Putah Creek went dry in most of its length by middle of June, of every year. Wet years would go a little bit longer, dry years, a little bit shorter. But basically by the middle of June, the creek would typically be dry. Certainly not enough water to support riparian diversions. So the water agency came to an agreement with the landowners and said, if you would accept July 15th as a cutoff date, we will, provide all reasonable demands for riparian water up to that time. And then in turn, after July 15th, you’ll voluntarily suspend your diversions. That voluntary agreement has held up since 2008. And, the landowners have been fantastic about letting us know when they’re turning their pumps on so we can manage the flows accordingly. So we’re not releasing more water than what’s required to satisfy the diversion, but we are meeting their requirements. And that’s part of making a system work for everybody, and it’s entirely voluntary and it’s worked beautifully.
Rich Marovich: In fact, I would say that, laws exist to provide a floor for human behavior. But it’s not the ceiling. To get to better than the minimum standard of behavior in a community, we have to rely on people doing things voluntarily. And when people understand what the problem is and they understand why it’s an issue, and, they start to engage hearts and minds, and people come together to solve problems of common interest, the result is magical. And you can feel it in the room when you’re there. When people realize, that person across the table is not my enemy, that’s my partner. Those are the people that are gonna give me the assurances that I’m looking for. And in turn, I’m going to give them the assurances that they’re looking for. And putting, looking for holistic solutions, solutions that work us create the best outcomes for everyone. As much as it can be achieved. And taking into consideration, humans as part of the system. Our future is, I think, unlimited. These problems are not insurmountable. They’re complex, they’re not going to be solved overnight, but, they’re gonna be solved, if they’re ever solved, by people in this room. Putting your efforts into it and having the dialogue, and being open to learning, and going into future meetings and attacking this issue with open hearts and open minds and open wills. And that’s how we can make the world a better place.
Rich Marovich: So I have just a couple of slides. These are from Dennis, and Dennis is going to allow me to present this to you. But, it’s basically the process of dialogue. And, we start out with a conversation and then we move into deliberation. Then we can either go down the road of discussion or we can suspend our, individual, opinions and look for, start listening empathically to others. We get to a point where we arrive at, generative dialogue, where new solutions arise not from any one person’s point of view, but from the synthesis of all interest groups and trying to do the best for everyone. And it leads to the kinds of creative solutions that make the world a better place. On the other side of the model, we go into conflict, competition versus collaboration, and we end up at a different place. And these are just the dynamics of human discussions. But, the turning point really begins, I think, when we get outside of our own stories, and we start listening, to the truths of others. And out of that comes a broader thinking, and out of that, comes new possibilities. And out of those new possibilities can come a brighter future.
Rich Marovich: And so it really comes down to forsaking winning, for improving. So if we can give up on having to win and having to persuade, and move into the realm of improving and learning, and especially suspending knowing, it’s very critical to suspend knowing because if we think we know, we’re not really open to learning. But if we suspend knowing and we’re, interested in continuous learning and interested in trying things, try new things and try them out on a small scale and see if they work or not. And the things that work, let’s build upon them, the things that aren’t working, let’s revisit our strategy. And, but this has to be done really at a holistic community level really, to succeed. And I take it by the attendance today that there’s great interest in this. And, I can tell you from my experience on Putah Creek, this approach works, and we are so much better off. We’re further ahead in terms of not only our salmon populations, we’ve doubled the bird counts in 20 years on Putah Creek. We have increased our obligate riparian birds even as the same species populations are flat or declining elsewhere in the Central Valley. It works because we’re all putting our hearts and minds into it.
Rich Marovich: So, that’s all I have for you, today.
Dennis Bowker: Maybe I’ll go over these last two slides, just a little more detail. It’s so great to see so many of you who have been through my – those of you who haven’t attended the two-week workshops, they were called seminars. But those of you have attended know why I call them boot camps. A lot of these types of ideas were presented there. I’m sorry, I can’t give a more thorough presentation, I got some physical issues right now that, might make it a little tough.
Dennis Bowker: I hope you’ll enjoy the Napa River Watershed Owner’s Manual. That came out of discussing with people the idea of having a watershed plan. And we said, now let’s use an interspace process, find out what kind of vehicle people need and then let’s build an owner’s manual for how to maintain that vehicle in great shape. And it received international attention. South Africa ordered a couple cases. Chile did. New Zealand did. They even had me go down and give some workshops based on it. So, way-to-go Napa Valley. That was great.
Dennis Bowker: But I wanted to go over these last two slides very quickly, although I’m running out of voice already. Because these essentially came out of a lot of the experiences in Napa. And the idea is to go from just a conversation, to an actual deliberation, so that you can get past the lack of understanding and disagreement, make a basic choice point, to evaluate options and strategies, based on a discussion where you’re talking beyond advocacy and competing for “my idea wins.” It’s not about winning, it’s about gaining. That’s where you suspend your – things like the idea that you need to advocate for a purpose, that you need to debate, that you need to win. And you go over instead and say, oh, no, I need to listen, I need to learn, I need to realize that we need to be different. Especially if you’re working on things like watershed management and ecosystems. You realize that diversity is necessary. When you’re talking with people about environmental management, diversity is necessary or else you’re not understanding the system. So accept diversity, and if you don’t see it, if you don’t hear it, you don’t find it, go get it, so that you can learn.
Dennis Bowker: And you do that by going from the dialectic and just exploring and defining what the opposition’s are. And move instead to dialogue, where you’re confronting your own and others assumptions, you’re revealing your feelings, and building a common ground so that eventually you can build a common strategy. You do that by getting past debate, by resolving through logic and beating down, which is what we often do, that’s when we hire attorneys. And instead, look for metalogue, where you’re thinking and feeling as a whole group. Realizing that building new shared assumptions and culture, that diversity of thinking, of ideas of approaches in a human group, is just as important as diversity in the biological community, like a watershed.
Dennis Bowker: So then you can move toward Model 2 from Model 1. Model 1’s characteristics are defending existing paradigms, designing and planning and managing unilateral, in other words, being in control. Pursuing victory, regardless of whether or not you’re making progress, and competing. Looking for manipulation, the avoidance of public testing of assumptions. You want everybody to accept your assumptions, let’s not test them too thoroughly. You want single-loop learning for self validation, so that you look for things that validate what you want to say, and kind of have a deaf ear to others. And validate incoming data and information by comparing it to existing models.
Dennis Bowker: What I’ve found, and as you just heard from Rich, as I’ve heard from so many of you today – it’s so great to see so many, some of which have been through the bootcamp. Model 2’s characteristics I’ve seen most successful around the world, where you maximize the valid information, valid being defined by a consensus or a wide agreement in the group. Jointly control the tasks, minimally. Defensive interpersonal relations, in other words, you’re not trying always to win, you’re trying to understand. Looking for collaboration, having open and frank discussion of difficult issues. My wife and I figured that out a long time ago, we’re about to celebrate our 48th anniversary. That’s why my hairline is what it is, “Oh, why did I do that?”, “I’m sorry.” So you want to have double-loop learning, which includes questioning mental models and assumptions, so you don’t want to always assume, unless you’re, I’m not going to go there, that you’re always right. And validate your paradigms, your mental models, by assessing new data and information. Many of us as human beings have a tendency to reject information if it doesn’t automatically fit our internal paradigms, “Oh, that’s gotta be wrong.” Rather than, “I could learn and get better.” You want to keep somewhere in between those two, and know where to go in the right time.
Dennis Bowker: So, couple of quotes in there for you to think about. Gnarls Barkley, “Knowing your weakness can only make you stronger.” I like that one. And the other one is, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” And, my son, when he and I were in Afghanistan, not as a military, but as, a community leader, taking a lot of these ideas with him over to Afghanistan, to help the communities grow and get stronger and become self-governing. It was terrific.
Dennis Bowker: So anyway, I just wanted to go over those last two slides with you. Thank you, Rich, for all you’ve done and all you do. Thank you all for coming.