Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

2011 Georgiana Slough non-physical barrier performance evaluation project report

January 9, 2021

The Sacramento River and its tributaries support populations of anadromous fish species including winter-run, spring-run, fall-run, and late fall–run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha); and steelhead (O. mykiss). Several of these species are listed as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), or both. These species spawn and rear in Sacramento River tributaries; adults use the mainstem Sacramento River for primarily upstream migration and juveniles use it for downstream migration. Juvenile Chinook salmon and steelhead migrate through the lower river during winter and spring. During their downstream migration, juvenile salmonids encounter alternative pathways, such as Sutter and Steamboat Sloughs, the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta (Delta), Delta Cross Channel (DCC), and Georgiana Slough. Likewise, sturgeon juveniles migrate downstream in the Sacramento River basin to the Delta, utilizing the distributary channels to rear within and migrate through the system.

Georgiana Slough is a natural channel that allows water and fish to move into the interior Delta. Previous studies have demonstrated that juvenile Chinook salmon experience greater mortality when migrating into Georgiana Slough than those juveniles that continue to migrate downstream in the Sacramento River (Perry 2010). Movement and/or diversion of these fish into the interior and south Delta increases the likelihood of losses through predation, entrainment into non-project Delta diversions, and mortality associated with the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) pumping facilities in the south Delta (Perry 2010; NMFS 2009). Figure ES-1 shows the migration pathways in the lower Sacramento River and Delta for outmigrating anadromous salmonids, and the location of the DCC, and the SWP and CVP pumping facilities in the south Delta.

Passage of juvenile salmonids from the Sacramento River into the interior Delta through the DCC can be reduced through seasonal closure of the radial gates (February through May); however, no similar protection is available to reduce the movement of juvenile salmonids from the Sacramento River into the interior Delta through Georgiana Slough. Flows into Georgiana Slough improve water quality and flushing in the interior Delta and free access encourages use by recreational boaters. Because of these benefits, alternatives to the installation of a physical barrier (i.e. radial gates), are being investigated.

Under the ESA, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued the 2009 Biological and Conference Opinion for the Long-Term Operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project (BO) for Chinook salmon and other listed anadromous fish species (NMFS 2009). Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) Action IV.1.3 of the BO requires that the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to consider engineering solutions to reduce the difersion of juvenile salmonids from the Sacramento River into the interior and south Delta. DWR implemented the 2011 Georgiana Slough Non-Physical Barrier (GSNPB) Study to test the effectiveness of using a non-physical barrier, referred to as a behavioral Bio-Acoustic Fish Fence (BAFF), that combines three stimuli to deter juvenile Chinook salmon from entering Georgiana Slough: sounds, high-intensity modulated light (previous known as stroboscopic light), and a bubble curtain. This report presents the results of the experimental tests conducted in 2011.

Publication Year 2012
Title 2011 Georgiana Slough non-physical barrier performance evaluation project report
Authors Jason G. Romine, Russell W. Perry, Theresa L. Liedtke
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype State or Local Government Series
Index ID 70156269
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center