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Conservation News

Machines to Monitor Water Quality in Trout-Fishing River
Six new machines will soon be installed to monitor water quality on three branches of a trout-fishing waterway in Minnesota.
From www.usnews.com

In this April 21, 2018 photo, Winona State University grad student Cole Weaver, in the foreground, measures one of six platforms made in Stockton, Minn., to hold special monitors that will keep track of water quality on the three branches of the Whitewater River. With him is Carlton Folz of Eau Claire, Wis. (John Weiss/The Rochester Post-Bulletin via AP) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

STOCKTON, MINN. (AP)- Six new machines will soon be installed to monitor water quality on three branches of a trout-fishing waterway in Minnesota.
The LimnoTech machines will monitor stream levels, temperature, dissolved oxygen and turbidity, the Post Bulletin reported. They'll also take samples when rain or snowmelt swells the Whitewater River's branches. The south, middle and north branches of the river will be monitored until they meet around Elba.
The state's Legacy Amendment will fund the $500,000 project, said Neal Mundahl, a biology professor at the Winona State University who is leading the water study. The study is expected to last two years, but the machines could be reused in other streams, he said.
The university's tests will be able to detect chemicals in parts per billion or even in lower amounts. Researchers will look for chemicals that are created when other chemicals breakdown.
"We are looking for some of those newer ones, the ones that have not been examined too often," Mundahl said. "That was the kind of information that was lacking when we had that fish kill."
Thousands of fish were killed after heavy rain in July 2015. The source of the contamination wasn't identified because the chemicals had left the system by the time reports were made about the dead fish.
The machines could help researchers identify the source of contaminated water if a contamination occurs.
"We will get tons of data, no matter what," Mundahl said. "Our goal is never seeing a fish kill, never detect anything really nasty."

Huge Opportunity to Remove Largest Dam on Eel River
From The Times Standard News

Earlier this month PG&E announced they are putting their Potter Valley Project out to open bid this fall. This project consists of two dams: Van Arsdale Dam that diverts water to the Russian River for hydropower and other uses, and Scott Dam, the only fish passage barrier on the mainstem Eel blocking over 150 miles of salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat.
CalTrout, Friends of the Eel River, Trout Unlimited, and other conservation and commercial fishery interests have a goal to remove Scott Dam and return fish to the upper Eel watershed. Returning salmon and steelhead to their historic home in the headwaters of the Eel is a critical part of our efforts to restore fish abundance back to the Eel River.
What does PG&E's decision to put the Potter Valley Project up to bid mean? It means that any entity could bid to buy the project and operate the facility for hydropower or just for the benefits of diverting water to the Russian River, or both as is currently the case. This is not our preferred alternative.
In an effort to push stakeholders towards dam removal, CalTrout has helped facilitate a series of ad hoc meetings convened by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA), which includes our conservation partners, PG&E, and Sonoma County Water Agency. Our hope is that through these conversations, the group of diverse interests can come to an agreement that includes the removal of Scott Dam.
Currently, CalTrout and partners are working to build the record of information to make the case for dam removal. To date we have established that there is at least 150 miles of spawning habitat above Scott Dam, we are working with a consultant to assess the feasibility and cost of removing Scott Dam, and we are in the process of assessing water rights.
Opportunities to remove big dams in California are few. Scott Dam on the Eel River represents one of the best opportunities in the state and PG&E's announcement has helped move things along, hopefully in a positive direction for California's salmon and steelhead.