California Water Service's Bear Gulch District Reaffirms Commitment to Environment with Completion of Fish Passage
District Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for Community Partners
MENLO PARK, Calif. — California Water Service (Cal Water) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to commemorate the completion of an important, long-planned fish ladder passage through its watershed. Woodside Mayor Chris Shaw, Planning Commissioner Marilyn Voelke, Planning Director Jackie Young, Woodside Fire Marshall Denise Enea, and a representative from Assemblymember Marc Berman's office were among those in attendance.
Bear Gulch Creek, from which Cal Water draws up to 10% of its local water supply, supports runs of steelhead trout, which were previously unable to migrate and spawn due to the industry-standard dam built around the turn of the century. Cal Water worked in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop an operations plan that included new minimum bypass flow requirements and a fish ladder to protect the steelhead, which are considered threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
The minimum bypass equipment monitors flow at the diversion intake to ensure that the trout are provided an adequate water supply to thrive and move up and down the stream. The ladder contains a series of ascending pools to allow the fish to move from pool to pool until they are out of the ladder and can pursue their migration to the bay and ocean. With the ability to migrate upstream and downstream of the intake diversion, the threatened steelhead trout can have more suitable habitat to spawn and repopulate.
"Being a responsible environmental steward and corporate citizen is one of our core values, so building this passage to protect this threatened species was a high priority for Cal Water," said District Manager Dawn Smithson. "We are now able to draw water from Bear Gulch when the creek level is high enough for the fish to continue to migrate, and will continue to provide quality, service, and value to our community."
According to Smithson, not only does the passage help the environment, but it also helps keep the cost of water down. "If we were unable to draw water from the creek, we would have to rely more on costlier purchased water from third parties. By building the passage, we are able to get more of our local water supply from the creek, while ensuring enough water is released for native fauna at the same time."
Cal Water serves approximately 18,900 service connections in Portola Valley, Woodside, Atherton, and portions of Menlo Park, Redwood City, and San Mateo County and about 2 million people through 482,400 service connections in California. The utility has provided water service in the area since 1936. Additional information may be obtained online at www.calwater.com.