The Realities of California’s Drought In Santa Clara County

calero creek fish loss

We’ve all heard the stories and seen the photos on the news about just how bad the drought is in California and other states. But today, as I left my neighborhood of green lawns and gardens and drove out into the country I noticed new evidence that took my breath away. Along one of my favorite riding trails runs Calero creek, an area full of wildlife. Fish, crayfish, birds and of course raccoons, skunks, opossum and the occasional bobcat rely on the daily releases from the reservoir to keep the creek flowing. So do the farmers and homes who use wells and creeks for watering their livestock.

As of yesterday the creek is no longer flowing. The banks are dry, and although there are some areas that still hold a small amount of water, those will dry up soon too.

In a 100 yard section of creek bed I saw scores of fish dead or dying. The remaining pools of water are getting smaller and the wildlife trapped in them will die as well.

Unless we get significant rain, there will be few or no releases of water from the reservoir in the near future and the death toll in the creek is heartbreaking.

According to a resource at the Santa Clara Water District offices, all of the reservoirs that use imported water (pumped in from the California Aquaduct for example) are significantly reducing or completely stopping outflow to the creeks. This includes Calero, and Almaden reservoirs.

According to the water district staff person I spoke with, the California department of fish and wildlife (CDFW) is working with the Water District and tough calls have to be made.

The CDFW has closed several streams to fishing until they determine water flows are adequate. You can find a partial list here. Other streams deemed not as important because there aren’t steelhead present, are simply being “turned off”.

What can you do?
It’s time to take our heads out of the sand folks. Take a look at this photo of what is left of the wildlife in Calero creek and ask yourself if you really need to keep your grass green or take a 15 minute shower. Start thinking about how you can conserve.

The  Santa Clara Valley Water District is asking for a 10% reduction in water use. To meet the reduction goal, the water district will double rebates paid to people who conserve water, promote water conservation laws in cities and use technology to convert the county’s wastewater into drinkable water within five years. But that’s in 5 years. We must conserve now.

Learn more about the California Water Action Plan, which will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure.

And while you’re at it. Pray for rain!

 

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