Six Cal Water employees honored for hatchery efforts during Oroville Spillway emergency

By on June 13, 2017

Cal Water employees Lynne McGhee, Kim Gregory, John Graham, Mike Jones, Greg Silva, and the recently retired Toni Ruggle were among those recognized last week by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for their assistance during the emergency evacuation of millions of spring-run salmon and eggs from the Oroville Fish Hatchery. Their efforts pertain to emergency at the Oroville Dam in February.

The historic emergency engineering included the fresh water release from Cal Water fire hydrants to keep the fish alive long enough to be loaded for transport to an off-stream facility. For some one million steelhead eggs that could not be relocated Cal Water partnered with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Cal Fire to ensure the eggs — listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act– would survive the storms and more turbid water flow from the Oroville Dam spillway and Feather River. Cal Water, working in conjunction with the Hatchery, was able to ensure that the fresh water went through a granular-activated carbon filtration system to remove the chlorine, utilized to make water safe for human consumption but which can impact fish, before the water was routed to the eggs.

“The Oroville Dam crisis was a challenge, but despite the chaos, our team performed flawlessly with our emergency response, which included helping to save the juvenile salmon and steelhead eggs,” said Marty Kropelnicki, Cal Water President and CEO. “I am personally very proud of our team and all of the agencies involved for the millions of salmon they helped save.”

The Cal Water employees were joined by employees Cal Fire and Department of Fish and Wildlife along. With salmon and sport fishing non-profit organizations CalTrout, Golden Gate Salmon Association and the Nor Cal Guides and Sportsman’s Association who were also recognized for their efforts. Assemblymember Brian Dahle presented Certificates of Recognition on behalf of Assemblymember James Gallagher to the honorees.

The agencies’ combined efforts were responsible for saving more than 5 million baby spring-run salmon caught in the rough and muddy water from the spillway erosion by getting them into fresh water. Salmon in California generate $1.4 billion a year in economic activity.

“The combined effort of our local Oroville staff and teams from other agencies to work quickly to save these threatened species makes me proud to be part of this effort,” said Lynne McGhee, Cal Water Vice President, General Counsel. “Whether in times of crisis or the average day, we remain committed to doing the right thing for both our community and environment.”