The Salinas River Diversion Facility increases the water available for irrigation in California’s agriculturally rich Salinas River Valley. To identify the effects of the diversion facility on threatened South-Central California Coast steelhead and their critical habitat, FISHBIO conducts a comprehensive juvenile steelhead outmigration monitoring program for the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, which operates the facility. We install rotary screw traps on the Salinas River and two of its tributaries—the Nacimiento and Arroyo Seco rivers—to monitor juvenile steelhead outmigration timing and abundance in the spring. In addition, we install a weir equipped with a VAKI Riverwatcher fish counter near the mouth of the Salinas River to monitor adult steelhead migration timing and abundance in the winter.
While monitoring the traps and the weir, we also collect a variety of biological and environmental data, including fish lengths and weights, water velocity, temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity. FISHBIO conducts electrofishing surveys to determine fish species composition and abundance—with an emphasis on steelhead—in the Arroyo Seco and Nacimiento Rivers. We have also assisted the MCWRA with implementing water quality monitoring stations in the Salinas River Lagoon and conducting fish stranding surveys on the Nacimiento River.