HBI General Meeting – Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District dedication of instream flows

Humboldt Bay Initiative General Meeting, Friday, May 16, 2015, 9:00 – 11:00 am

HBI General Meeting Notes
May 15, 2015, 9-11am at USFWS

Presentation: Dedication of instream flows – Mad River Climate Change Refugia
Aldaron Laird, Vice-President, Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District
Summary of the Districts effort to dedicate a portion of their water right for beneficial instream uses. The District needs to show that this will cause no harm for other beneficial instream uses. This dedication would preserve water in mad and retain District control (local control).

The District is unique is that it owns and controls Matthews Dam, uses the Mad River as a conveyance system (no pipes), and has water right for 85,000 acre feet/year (huge amount; legacy of 2 large pulp mills that used up to 60 million gallons/day before introducing efficiencies and eventually closing).

Municipality demands average about 10 million gallons a day, and even with a new industry (or industries) being developed in place of the pulp mills, it is unlikely that the entire water right will be used. At this time, the District is not a competitive supplier for exporting water based on the price per acre foot. Therefore, the District is looking into the option of dedicating instream water. The water rights will be up for licensing in 2029, and the District has been advised that they need a 15-year lead to submit their water rights application.

There have been several studies focused on the Mad River:
1. Multispecies habitat conservation plan – only HCP issued to a water agency in CA.
2. FRGP awarded grant to conduct scoping review of dedicating instream flows
3. Hydrologic flow analysis that evaluates flow conditions without Ruth Lake/Matthews Dam, including Fish passage study in lower reach of Mad. Summary – because of position of dam, size, and downstream precip, the dam had relatively no effect on downstream flows. It has changed the river by augmenting flows in lower reaches and reach directly below damn, changing from intermittent to perennial system.
4. 2015 FRPG proposal (HTH and NHE prepared). Includes estuary studies (year round study on mouth migration, salinity, and temp. Includes collecting physical data, existing bathymetry, put together 3D model to run different scenarios at that point. Simultaneously collect data on species assemblages and timing to relate to hydrograph modeling) and amphibian and fish studies in upper reaches of the river to estimate flows for fish passage through natural geologic barriers and examine the effect of releases on thermal stratification in holding pools, water temperature, and timing of egg deposition.

Partner Updates
Jeff Anderson, Northern Hydrology & Engineering – Sea Level Rise modeling work is complete. Visit http://www.coastalecosystemsinstitute.org/humboldt-bay-slr-vulnerability-and-adaptation-planning/ or http://humboldtbay.org/humboldt-bay-sea-level-rise-adaptation-planning-project to download products.
Craig Garner, Ducks Unlimited – Craig is new to the area, and is looking to develop a phase 2 NWCA grant for Humboldt Bay and Eel River region. The application package will include a suite of projects, please contact him. The earliest that this could be submitted would be December 2015.

John Corbett, Board Member, Regional Water Control Board – John is interested in exploring the partnerships and the scientific research needed to complete the TMDL for dioxin in Humboldt Bay, which has been scheduled in the recent Triennial Review for 2020.

Steve Kullman, Wiyot Tribe – The Wiyot is participating in MPA baseline studies and will start sampling soon; Mad River is a control, and the Mendocino estuaries will be sampled later in June or July. Also recently completed a NOAA-funded marine debris removal project in partnership with Harbor District. Steve also is on Blue Lake City Council.

Andrea Pickard, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge – The Coastal Conservancy Board will vote to approve Climate Ready grant for dunes – topo and veg monitoring, dune morphology to examine sediment budget and vulnerability at June meeting. Part of this project will include a SLR adaptation demonstration project located at Bair dunes north of Lamphere. Includes many collaborators; the draft EA is out for comment. Please comment and forward to Eric Nelson. http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Region_8/NWRS/Zone_1/Humboldt_Bay_Complex/Humbolt_Bay/Sections/Documents/DraftHumboldtBayEA-IS-4_21_15.pdf

Allison O’Dowd, HSU River institute – looking at modeling how to release water from Potter to help juveniles out migrate.

Jenny Curtis, USGS:
• Submitting sediment grant application to EPA Wetland Program Development program today. Would be one site in Mad River Slough and Manila marsh, then two sites in South Bay (few options); would be same sites where USGS/Karen Thorne collected data. Karen Thorne would be involved as well and build on current knowledge. Proposal includes coring, installation of set tables, current deposition and marsh accretion rates over several time series, and continuous turbidity monitors calibrated for suspended sediment.
• Jenny is also part of a group embarking on regional low-flow study at several sites in CA, ID, OR, WA.

Doreen Hansen, Humboldt County RCD is gearing up for Phase 2a construction at Salt River.

Becky Price- Hall, CEINC & City of Trinidad – CEINC continues to seek funding to help support HBI. City of Trinidad – implementing mandated water-use reduction. Trinidad Rancheria looking to expand to include hotel and gas, storm water ordinance being reviewed.

Chet Ogan, Redwood Region Audubon Society – RRAS commented on Last Chance Grade and the recent Coast Seafood Initial Study. Will also submit comment by June 8th to the North Coast Regional Water Board draft order on from marijuana cultivation.

Eric Nelson, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge – At White Slough the Refuge is looking to add material to by Tompkins’s Hill site. Will be a multi-year and multi-agency effort. 40,000 cu ft needed. The Refuge continues will invasive Spartina eradication and maintenance.

Aldaron Laird, Trinity Associates:
• Humboldt Bay SLR Adaptation Planning Project. The APWG continued to meet on every month basis. Diked Lands Stakeholders Group is being formed. Eric Nelson, Aldaron, Donna Chambers (RCD), Katherine Zimmer (Farm Bureau), and Pete Bussman (landowner, RCD board) participated and generated a list of 10 landowners to start outreach efforts.
• City of Eureka Local Coastal Program update – conducted critical assets risk analysis to SLR. Below ground infrastructure most vulnerable (wastewater treatment, water lines) and transportation corridors.
Kelsey McDonald, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge – Working on Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge’s Natural Resource Management Plan update.

Mark Wheetley, City of Arcata. Mark recently attended a San Diego Conference on sea level rise planning. Also, Northern CA cities drafted a resolution on marijuana cultivation, all 400 cities in state signed on, and they recently presented to CA legislators and public interest groups.

Jen Kalt – Humboldt Baykeeper:
• 2015 Baykeeper tour series is starting. Also, update of their brochure, first time in Spanish.
• Working with Friends of the Dunes to update the coastal naturalist manual.
• Working with PWA to work on bacterial contamination methodology with Regional Board staff. Little River and Jane’s Creek as focal areas. Will start study when county lab is ready to start processing.
• A Stormwater ordnance started for county (thanks to Regional Board citation), also septic system policy.
• Learn to row day on June 6th, 7am – noon. Kids 11 and older can participate. www.hbra.org

Joe Tyburczy, California Sea Grant – Joe is continuing to conduct MPA monitoring project on rocky intertidal habitat. Also pursuing grant funding to monitor ocean acidification in Humboldt Bay and eelgrass and oyster aquaculture interactions.

Alex Blessing, The Wildlands Conservancy – The Wildlands Conservancy manages Eel River Estuary Preserve. Preserve Manager Dave Ericson has moved on, new Preserve Manager Emily Afriat-Hyman will be arriving in May.

Jill Demers, CEINC – Jill was recently contacted by Karen Thorne at USGS about a project (project team includes the Southwest Climate Science Center (USGS), Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Dan Cayan and Sasha Gershunov), Desert Research Institute (Kelly Redmond and Britta Daudert), and University of California, Davis (Erica Fleishman)) looking for partners who have current efforts or projects intended to inform management actions that might benefit from customized data on climate extremes. They are looking at Humboldt Bay as a potential site; we should hear if this moving forward soon.