Fall River Water Talks

Fall River Water Talks

This spring, the Fall River Conservancy (FRC) partnered with California Trout to coordinate a local information sharing forum in McArthur called Water Talks.  Developed by California Trout, Water Talks are an ongoing series of informational and educational presentations with local and regional experts sharing their knowledge with the public on a range of water related topics.

Fall River Water Talks Presenters and Key Points:

Andrew Braugh (Director of Programs, Fall River Conservancy)

“The quality and quantity of water generated by our Fall River spring systems is astounding. The river generates well over one million acre-feet per year of cold, clean water. That’s about as much water as the ten million people in Los Angeles County use annually! We have some critical challenges ahead of us including sediment supply issues and Eurasian watermilfoil outbreaks, but overall we’re encouraged to see conservation groups working with agricultural operators, academic research groups, and major energy providers like PG&E to figure out how to manage this resource for everyone’s benefit.”

Carson Jeffres (Staff Researcher, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences)

“My research interest is focused on exploring how nutrients in the underlying geology can be incorporated into groundwater, emerge as springs, and ultimately provide the base of a productive foodweb.  Coldwater fish species such as coho salmon and rainbow trout are increasingly threatened as climate changes and temperatures rise. They must adapt, migrate or face extinction. But freshwater fish can only migrate so far; they are bound by river corridors, barriers and physical conditions (salt water tolerance, temperature, etc.).

Spring-fed rivers and streams are becoming more important for cold-water fish species because the water volume and temperatures in these systems are more resilient to variation in precipitation and climate change than surface run-off watersheds. Spring-fed rivers will act as cold-water refuges for these species as climate changes and surface water-fed rivers run low and warm.

The underlying geology of a river is one of the most important factors in determining whether a watershed will be more resilient to climate change by maintaining cold water for cold-water species. Water chemistry is another factor that contributes to ecological productivity, particularly in a spring-fed system. Underlying rocks can contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, common nutrients in spring waters and critical for a robust aquatic food-web (Jeffres et al. 2009).”

Erin Donley (Researcher, U.S. Department of Agriculture)

“The USDA is working to identify management strategies to improve the long-term biological integrity of the Fall River. My research explores ecology of aquatic food webs of the Fall River including,

  1. Role of aquatic plants in healthy river systems
  2. Aquatic food webs: relationships between plants, invertebrates and fish
  3. Exotic Plants –why are they here?
  4. Eurasian watermilfoil: know impacts, under studies impacts

Aquatic macropyhtes (large aquatic plants) serve as the primary source of energy in river systems (photosynthesis). Macrophytes can serve as scaffolding for other sources of energy including algae, fungi, bacteria, diatoms, etc. They also provide habitat and food sources for invertebrates, fish, amphibians and other wildlife.  Finally, they influence sediment dynamics and influence water quality and nutrient content.  Why do exotic plants invade? Often times a natural or human caused disturbance limits native plants ability to compete.  In the Fall River for example, sedimentation likely disturbed Z-grass (Zannichellia sp.) and other native aquatic plants. Consequently, Eurasian watermilfoil was able to quickly dominate the aquatic environment.  In addition to impeding flow and being an annoyance to recreation fisherman and hydropower operators, Euarasian watermilfoil  can also influence water quality, nutrient cycling, macroinvertebrate communities, and wild trout populations.”

Michelle Berditschevsky (Conservation Director, Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center)

“The Medicine Lake Volcano and its underlying aquifer comprise California’s largest groundwater storage system. The aquifers water surfaces as part of the Fall River’s spring system, the state’s largest spring system.  We feel it’s important for the public to understand the intricate connection between these two amazing systems that are so vital to California’swater supply,”

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