Trinity River Restoration Project a Collaborative Success

  • by Dave Eggerton
  • Jul 19, 2019
  • Voices on Water

During a recent trip to the Trinity River, I learned about the many challenges facing its salmon and steelhead populations. 

Seasonal floods no longer cleared away excessive brush, which built up over time into steeper banks that unnaturally channelized the river. This in turn affected how river flows distributed gravel, the starting point for the salmon and steelhead lifecycle. Flows, droughts, temperatures and growing demands on water supplies from the river over time interconnected into a complex web of consequences that brought the Trinity to where it is today, a river that looks beautiful but bears little resemblance to what it once was.

But there is hope and evidence of progress in realizing ecological benefits of the past. A holistic approach to habitat restoration doesn’t rely on a single silver bullet solution, but applies a comprehensive set of actions that rely on collaboration between local tribes, federal and state agencies, and local government agencies such as ACWA-member Weaverville Community Services District (WCSD). Known as the Trinity River Restoration Project (TRRP), this broad-based effort shows great potential in reversing the decline in migratory fish populations. Scientists working within the project have tracked an increase in the number of outgoing juvenile salmon headed to sea and that increase will hopefully repeat itself with more adult fish returning to spawn.

Restoring the Trinity’s natural functions won’t depend on a single solution, no more than their decline stemmed from a lone cause. Targeted, high-flow releases matched with habitat restoration work is attempting to reverse unnatural channelization by re-introducing flood plains and scouring the river bottom. Boulders and logs placed in the river also diversify flows and slow the current to increase habitat quality for young fish. WCSD itself, while not a partner agency within TRRP, also cooperated with project scientists to integrate habitat restoration into a redesign of its river intake site. 

Those are just a few of many examples I saw that reflect a long-term investment in the health and well-being of the Trinity and its ecosystem. It’s the variety and sophistication of the  efforts to achieve progress on the river and its tributaries and the dedication of the men and women behind this work, including scientists and water managers, that hold the greatest promise for meaningful, lasting change.

This collaborative approach among so many partners who are integrating multiple tactics toward a single goal has precedent. Twenty years ago, restoration work on Butte Creek backed by federal, state and local government agencies set the stage for a stunning comeback in the Chinook salmon population. ACWA member agencies played an important role in this success story, including Western Canal Water District locally and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Further south, the Lower Yuba River Accord has also demonstrated great potential for restoring fish populations through collaboration among conservation groups, state and federal agencies, and the Yuba Water Agency.

Each of these efforts reflect a commitment to collaboration among multiple parties that relies on a variety of approaches – all the tools in the toolbox. What I saw on the Trinity illustrates the promise and potential for this process to work on a much wider scope and scale throughout our state.  It’s why I am convinced the tireless efforts of our member agencies and the Governor’s One Water Team to realize Voluntary Agreements for comprehensive investments in the tributaries to the Bay-Delta can and will work.

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
Priority Issues Bulletin

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

ACWA and CMUA Lead Service Line Inventory Webinar Materials

On Dec. 17, in cooperation with the State Water Resource Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water, ACWA and CMUA hosted […]

Comment Letter: ACWA and CMUA Comment on Proposed ELAP Regulations

Agencies: ACWA and California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA) Subject: Comments on Proposed Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) Regulations Description: ACWA and […]

Coalition Letter on Strategic Plan to Protect CA’s Coast and Ocean

Associations: Association of California Water Agencies, California Association of Sanitation Agencies, California Municipal Utilities Association, Bay Area Clean Water Agencies, […]

2020 ACWA Scholarship Toolkit

To assist  members in promoting available ACWA scholarship opportunities, the association has updated its Scholarship Toolkit for the 2020-’21 academic […]

ACWA 2019 Fall Conference Presentations

Presentations from ACWA’s 2019 Fall Conference & Exhibition held Dec. 3-6 in San Diego are available below. Please note that […]

ACWA’S 2019 Fall Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop Materials

The following presentations and materials for ACWA’s 2019 Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop on Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to […]

Outreach Handbook

ACWA’s Outreach Handbook is a valuable tool for engaging legislators, key regulators and administration officials on policy issues that are […]

Groundwater Replenishment Framework

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has prepared A Technical Framework for Increasing Groundwater Replenishment in response to a […]

Federal Legislative Matrix

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Comment Letter: ACWA and CMUA Comment on OEHHA Draft Report

Agencies: ACWA and California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA) Subject: Comments on the Public Review Draft Mapping Tool and Draft Report, Achieving […]

2019 Summary of Legislation

ACWA’s 2019 Summary of Legislation provides concise information on legislation enacted in the first year of the 2019-’20 legislative session that […]

ACWA’s 2019 Regulatory Summit Materials

Water managers and water quality specialists attended the ninth annual ACWA Regulatory Summit on Oct. 17 to learn about the […]

Coalition Letter on Water Loss Regulations

Agency: ACWA, CMUA and various water agencies Subject: Comments on the Development of Water Loss Performance Standards and Economic Model […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
ACWA New for Jan. 17, 2020

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Capitalizing on ACWA Capital Events

Nothing gets your point across quite like making it in person.  Consider the members of the state legislative and congressional […]

Spotlight: New Habitat Restoration – January 2020

New Habitat Restoration Project Nurtures Record Number of Salmon Nests on American River Kat Perkins, a scientist with the Sacramento […]

Prepare for Emergencies, Get Free Supplies for Kits at Let’s Talk H2O! with PWD

PALMDALE – To help community members prepare for emergencies, Palmdale Water District (PWD) will provide information and FREE supplies to […]

TUD Awarded Steel Tank of the Year

The Steel Tank Institute (STI)/Steel Plate Fabricators Association (SPFA) awarded the Tuolumne Utilities District’s (TUD or District) Jamestown Water Tank […]

West Valley Water District Announces Channing Hawkins as Board President

RIALTO – Please join us in welcoming our new President of West Valley Water District Board of Directors, Channing Hawkins. […]

Governor Releases Proposed 2020-’21 State Budget

Gov. Gavin Newsom released his proposed Fiscal Year 2020-’21 budget Jan. 10 for the State of California, calling for $222 […]

January Priority Issues Update Available to Members

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Community Members Learn About Their Water Supply at WVWD Open House

WALNUT – On Saturday, January 11 community members from Diamond Bar, Walnut, West Covina, Rowland Heights, and Pomona attended Walnut […]

NID Directors Select New Board President and Vice President

Nevada Irrigation District (NID) Directors have selected their new officers for 2020. Ricki Heck will serve as board president, and […]

Rancho California Appoints Board President and Vice President

The Board of Directors at Rancho California Water District have appointed Bill Wilson to serve as board president for 2020. […]

ACWA 2020-’21 Region Board Vacancies

ACWA is currently looking for members to fill three Region Board Member positions. Members interested in leading the direction of […]

Western Employees Start 2020 Thriving and Healthy

RIVERSIDE – Western Municipal Water District received two workplace honors in 2019, combining physically healthy employees with a thriving work […]

New Habitat Restoration Project Nurtures Record Number of Salmon Nests

Kat Perkins, a scientist with the Sacramento Water Forum, poured over an aerial image of the lower American River near […]

Mesa Water District Announces Passing of Former Board Members

COSTA MESA — It is with great sadness that Mesa Water District (Mesa Water®) announces the passing of former Board members R. […]