Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Carmel River Being Sucked Dry

The river’s most serious and expensive challenge, though, is that it’s being sucked dry to supply the Peninsula. With 12,000 acre-feet per year diverted for human use – more than three times the legal limit – many of the river’s tributaries wither in the summer, stranding steelhead and parching a lower watershed that depends on it.

 The San Clemente Dam, built in 1921, is a 106-foot-high, reinforced concrete arch bolted into bedrock on both sides, a powerful and imposing structure with an art deco grace, originally holding 1,425 acre-feet of water at the confluence of the Carmel River and San Clemente Creek, in the steep, pine-encrusted ravines southeast of Carmel Valley Village. 
 The San Clemente is now so silted in it holds less than 60 acre-feet of water; the state declared it obsolete in 2003.

Twenty years after the state water board’s order to do something about the dam, its removal is finally poised to happen. The California Coastal Conservancy, which is leading the planning and design, expects road work to begin in late summer. Construction on the river reroute should start in spring 2013

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