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June 25, 2010 > Dedication by water district

Dedication by water district

By Simon Wong

Image courtesy of ACWD

Alameda County Water District (ACWD) dedicated the Bunting Pond Fish Screen and the Rubber Dam No. 2 Fish Passage Facility on June 23, 2010 at Niles Community Park, Fremont.

Both projects are in the Alameda Creek Flood Control Channel and are the latest to be completed as part of the Fisheries Restoration Program in the 633 square mile-Alameda Creek Watershed. The decommissioning of Rubber Dam No. 2 and installation of a fish-way, and the Bunting Pond Fish Screen will contribute to steelhead trout restoration, listed as a threatened species in 1997.

The Alameda Creek watershed was once the spawning ground for steelhead trout, which migrate from the ocean up freshwater streams to spawn and rear their young. Changes to the Alameda Creek stream-bed and urbanization of the surrounds removed natural breeding habitats and made the waterways impassable for steelhead and salmon for almost 50 years.

ACWD received $2.1M from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for four projects to improve and eventually restore steelhead migration in Alameda Creek. Through the 2005 San Francisco Bay Salmonid Habitat Restoration Fund, NFWF and DWR has helped fund other projects that will benefit salmon and steelhead trout in central and southern San Francisco Bay watersheds.

ACWD's projects are part of a regional effort to restore steelhead in the Alameda Creek watershed. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Zone 7 Water Agency, East Bay Regional Park District and Alameda County Public Works Agency have completed projects to encourage fish to return to Alameda Creek.

The Bunting Pond Fish Screen Project lasted a year, including design and 6 months' construction and was completed in January 2010. Construction of the fish screen cost $373,015 and equipment, fabrication and installation, $291,250. The project modified water diversion intake and installed a fish screen, fencing, control panel and implemented trail modifications. The fish-screen system consists of a self-cleaning cylindrical screen on a track system mounted on a concrete pad along the south bank of the Alameda Creek Flood Control Channel (ACFCC) between the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge and Alameda Water District Rubber Dam No. 3.

ACWD supplies water to the Tri-City area. Water is taken from ACFCC via a pipeline that feeds Bunting Pond, a percolation pond, which supplies the District's groundwater basin from where it is pumped for distribution when needed. Hitherto, small and young fish in the vicinity of the intake were physically drawn through the percolation ponds where they died. The screen system and diversion-intake supply Bunting Pond and filter out the fish so they can continue their journey upstream along Alameda Creek. The project received a Proposition 50 grant of $600,000 from the Department of Water Resources.

The decommissioning of Rubber Dam No. 2 was completed in January 2010. Construction costs amounted to $446,888. The project, which entailed removal of the fabric portion of the dam and a section of the dam's foundation to enable fish to pass during low flow, is in Fremont within the Alameda Creek Flood Control Channel next to the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreational Area. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided a $500,000-grant toward the project.

"Over time, we hope to install screens for all our percolation ponds and install fish ladders at the rubber dam facilities," explained Project Manager Kalpana Ghandi.

"NOAA Fisheries has identified Alameda Creek as a priority watershed for re-population by steelhead trout because of the Creek's uniqueness. In 1999, water-supply agencies, flood-control agencies, East Bay Regional Park District, PG&E, environmental organizations and regulatory agencies formed the Alameda Creek Fisheries Restoration Workgroup to manage restoration efforts. Completion of both projects is a significant step to restoration of steelhead trout while protecting other beneficial uses of the Alameda Creek watershed," said ACWD General Manager Walt Wadlow.

"The objective of these improvements is to create safe passage through the flood control channel for steelhead to reach the upper watershed for spawning. I'd like to thank everyone for their tremendous efforts over the past decade. It might be another 10 years before we complete all the projects we'd like to undertake but I'm very proud of where we are today and want to continue our achievements," said ACWD Board President Marty Koller.

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