Dam Tweaks Yield Results

By Alastair Bland

“After one year of flows, we’re seeing lots of rainbow trout,” says Brian Sak of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). For the first time ever, cold water is flowing steadily through Calaveras Dam in southern Alameda County, and into the creek canyon below. The return of rainbow trout to Calaveras Creek marks a milestone in an ongoing, multi-agency restoration of Alameda Creek, which drains more than 600 square miles of the East Bay. Since the dam’s construction in 1925 by the Spring Valley Water Company, no measurable flows have been allowed through the barrier. But facing legal action, the SFPUC agreed to overhaul its operations in the interests of steelhead recovery as part of its dam rebuild, which wrapped up in 2018.

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About the author

A resident of Sonoma County, Alastair Bland is a freelance journalist who writes about water policy in California, rivers and salmon, marine conservation, and climate change. His work has appeared at CalMatters, NPR.org, Smithsonian.com, Yale Environment 360, and the East Bay Express, among many other outlets. When he isn't writing, Alastair can often be found riding a bicycle, pulling weeds from his garden, and holding his breath underwater.