Drought, Data, and Water Conservation

As everyone in our region should be aware by now, far less water is flowing in the Eel River than is healthy for the ecosystem or sustainable for our livelihoods.

A variety of different methods are used to measure how much water is flowing through our watershed. Several stations in the Eel River watershed measure the flow and stage, or height, of the river. These stations are managed by a range of agencies including PG&E, United States Geological Service and the California Department of Water Resources, and are located on the mainstem, south fork, and middle fork. Data collected at these stations is made available to the public through the California Department of Water Resources’ California Data Exchange Center (www.cdec.water.ca.gov). You can see below how little water is running through our immense watershed in graphs obtained from the California Data Exchange Center. The graphs represent the rate of flow, measured in cubic feet per second (cfs) beginning May 25 and ending July 24. The downward trend on these graphs is severe, each station measuring less than 20cfs by the end of July. For comparison, the average rate of flow between 2001 – 2012 for July 24 at the Fort Seward station is 115cfs.

While it seems awfully late to just start now, it is important to conserve water however we can and to keep excess sediment out of our rivers and streams. The Salmonid Restoration Federation is hosting two upcoming opportunities on the North Coast to learn about registering water rights and reducing sediment impact.

First the North Coast Water Rights Workshop on Tuesday, August 11 from 6 – 8:30pm at the Willits Community Center, where topics will include riparian and appropriative rights, DFW permit 1600, calculating water use and more. This workshop is hosted in partnership with the Mendocino Resource Conservation District and Trout Unlimited.

Then, Wednesday, September 16 is the Sediment and Erosion Control Workshop at the Piercy Community Center from 9am – 5pm. This workshop, hosted with Pacific Watershed Associates, will cover identifying and evaluating sediment sources, creating erosion control methods, and more.

To register or learn more about either workshop, visit www.calsalmon.org.