Salmonid Conservation and Restoration: Conflicts with other Water Resource Uses?

Come join us for the first Cafe Sci of 2017! Dr. Steve Blumenshine, a professor of biology at Fresno State, will be discussing his river restoration project.

On September 15, 2016, the State (CA) Water Resources Control Board released a proposed revision (‘Substitute Environmental Document’, SED) to water quality requirements for salinity in the southern Bay-Delta and flows to major tributaries of the San Joaquin River (SJR). The revised flow requirements are to reduce water diversions, which allow more water in SJR tributaries to support native fish species, especially salmonids. Enhanced river flow objectives are sought to increase habitat area and quality as well as provide more optimal water temperatures and trigger outmigration. The SED recognizes that the cost of enhanced flows may pose challenges to local economies; reduced water diversions could impact water supply for municipal and agriculture demands, especially following years of drought conditions.

The release of the SED provoked broad and sharp rebukes from political and agricultural stakeholders in the SJR watershed. Aside from losing water through reduced diversions from rivers, there has been a rather subtle point of contention receiving less attention. The water temperature thresholds for the early life history stages of salmonids in these SJR tributaries are based on EPA Region 10, which includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska. Clearly, these high latitude regions support salmonid populations that are likely acclimated to cooler water temperatures compared to central California.

The Blumenshine lab at Fresno State has been working quite intensively on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program with a focus on the ecology and temperature requirements of juvenile Chinook Salmon. They have made dozens of conference presentations on the remarkable growth rates of juvenile Chinook Salmon in the SJR, which is the southern-most population of this species. Over the last two years, they’ve been making the well-received argument that Chinook Salmon populations likely have basin-specific temperature optima. This presentation will cover several lines of evidence that could potentially ameliorate the ongoing perceptions of conflict among water uses in California.

Who: Dr. Steve Blumenshine

When: January 9, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Where: Santa Fe Basque, 3110 N. Maroa Ave., Fresno, CA

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