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Effect of tides, river flow, and gate operations on entrainment of juvenile salmon into the interior Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta

April 8, 2015

Juvenile Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha emigrating from natal tributaries of the Sacramento River, California, must negotiate the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (hereafter, the Delta), a complex network of natural and man-made channels linking the Sacramento River with San Francisco Bay. Fish that enter the interior and southern Delta—the region to the south of the Sacramento River where water pumping stations are located—survive at a lower rate than fish that use alternative migration routes. Consequently, total survival decreases as the fraction of the population entering the interior Delta increases, thus spurring management actions to reduce the proportion of fish that are entrained into the interior Delta. To better inform management actions, we modeled entrainment probability as a function of hydrodynamic variables. We fitted alternative entrainment models to telemetry data that identified when tagged fish in the Sacramento River entered two river channels leading to the interior Delta (Georgiana Slough and the gated Delta Cross Channel). We found that the probability of entrainment into the interior Delta through both channels depended strongly on the river flow and tidal stage at the time of fish arrival at the river junction. Fish that arrived during ebb tides had a low entrainment probability, whereas fish that arrived during flood tides (i.e., when the river's flow was reversed) had a high probability of entering the interior Delta. We coupled our entrainment model with a flow simulation model to evaluate the effect of nighttime closures of the Delta Cross Channel gates on the daily probability of fish entrainment into the interior Delta. Relative to 24-h gate closures, nighttime closures increased daily entrainment probability by 3 percentage points on average if fish arrived at the river junction uniformly throughout the day and by only 1.3 percentage points if 85% of fish arrived at night. We illustrate how our model can be used to evaluate the effects of alternative water management actions on fish entrainment into the interior Delta.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Effect of tides, river flow, and gate operations on entrainment of juvenile salmon into the interior Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta
DOI 10.1080/00028487.2014.1001038
Authors Russell W. Perry, Patricia L. Brandes, Jon R. Burau, Philip T. Sandstrom, John R. Skalski
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Series Number
Index ID 70148104
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center