[Fosc] FW: media coverage of FOSC!!!

Camille Nowell camille_fawne at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 30 09:28:22 PDT 2010


Hi FOSC,

Congratulations on a very good article and exposure for FOSC and Sausal Creek.

I forwarded the info on the creek discharge and fish kill to my boyfriend, a geochemist, and he came up with the following analysis below.  I wonder what we can do to stop EBMUD from repeating these mistakes in the future.

Camille



From: Angus.McGrath at stantec.com
To: camille_fawne at hotmail.com
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010 10:01:44 -0600
Subject: RE: [Fosc] media coverage of FOSC!!!



















Using half again as much reductant to remove the chlorine removes
all of the oxygen from the water and leaves a reductant or oxygen scavenger in
the treated water.  EPA limits for reduced sulfur compounds typically used to
react with chlorine and chloramine are literally below the limits of detection.
For our NPDES permits (required to discharge into a stream) do not allow
discharge of any sulfide into groundwater.  Most likely the sodium or potassium
metabisulfite they used (a compound used to preserve wine) was still in the
water and the fish suffocated.  Chloramine is also dangerous for fish, but it
wouldn’t necessarily kill the fish since the water contains many natural
reductants that would react with in and neutralize it.  The sulfide probably
binds tightly to the hemoglobin sites preventing oxygen from binding to it
since sulfide precipitates with ferrous iron to form pyrite.

 

I would bet money that is what happened, and you won’t be
able to measure anything to show that.  I doubt there is a way to show that the
fish suffocated to death, and the results may have been the same if they had been
exposed to excess chloramines since that would have the effect of burning their
lungs and prevented them from breathing normally.

 

It is so sad that this happened.

 

Gus…

 





Angus McGrath

Principal Geochemist

Stantec





57 Lafayette Circle 2nd Floor

Lafayette CA 94549

Ph:   (925) 299-9300 Ext. 241

Fx:   (925) 299-9302

Cell: (510) 385-4497

angus.mcgrath at stantec.com





stantec.com 





 





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From: Camille Nowell
[mailto:camille_fawne at hotmail.com] 

Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 8:43 AM

To: McGrath, Angus

Subject: FW: [Fosc] media coverage of FOSC!!!





 

Hey Gus,  What do you think went
wrong?  EBMUD says they used ample dechorinating agent so the fish should
have been ok.  See below.



C















To: FOSC at lists.sausalcreek.org

Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 16:54:29 -0400

From: mjrauz at aol.com

Subject: [Fosc] media coverage of FOSC!!!







We were on the news last weekend-
Our own Kimra McAfee interviewed about the reason to clean creeks- see-





 





http://kron4.com/News/SpecialCoverage/KRON4NewsVideos/tabid/613/Default.aspx





 





AND--- about the trout kills--





 





Estuary News-





Bay-Delta News and Views from
the San Francisco Estuary Partnership | Volume 19, No.5 | OCTOBER 2010





 





 





DEaDly DiSiNFECTaNT 





If there were ever a poster
child for urban 





stream restoration,
Oakland’s Sausal Creek 





is surely it. One of the
longest-running such 





groups in the Bay Area, the
Friends of Sausal 





Creek’s accomplishments
are prodigious. 





Partnering with the city, the
group recently 





removed three dams that
blocked the creek’s 





steelhead from moving
upstream, and restored 





about 700 feet of channel,
planting 1,500 feet 





of creek bank with some
50,000 native plants 





they grew in their own
nursery. Over the past 





14 years, they have stabilized
land- slides, teamed 





up with the Boy
Scouts to remove invasives, 





installed a large
native plant garden, produced a 





watershed plan and
trail maps for the creek and 





its tribs, built and
maintained trails, acquired 





land adjacent to the creek to
preserve as open 





space, and spent thousands of
hours on com- 





munity outreach and
monitoring birds, water 





quality, fish, rare plants,
and even oysters at 





the creek’s
mouth. 





 





More recently, the city
received a grant to 





liberate 180 feet of stream
from a culvert, part 





of a project that will
restore another 745 feet 





of stream. Some might say
that to see this 





thriving riparian
corridor—and fish—in the 





midst of such an urban area
is nothing short 





of a miracle. The California
Land Steward- 





ship’s Laurel Marcus,
who recently completed 





a watershed plan for Sausal
Creek, says 





“Sausal is unique
amongst urban creeks and 





has significantly better
aquatic conditions as 





demonstrated by aquatic
insect monitoring.” 





This, says, Marcus, is in
part because one of 





its tributaries flows almost
entirely through 





park land. But is also
clearly the result of the 





city’s and the
Friends’ blood, sweat, and— 





especially
recently—tears. 





 





One of the main motivators
for both the 





can make it to the Estuary and
ocean and back 





upstream again; numerous
culverts, especially 





in the creek’s lower
reaches, may act as bar- 





riers. Yet steelhead are
surprising, amazing 





fish, says the SF Bay
Regional Water Board’s 





Leslie Ferguson, and
sometimes make their 





way against all odds, a
thought that is echoed 





by the US EPA’s Rob
Leidy, who lives in the 





watershed and works with the
Friends. Leidy 





says it is possible that fish
could make their 





way up through the culverts
under the right 





conditions. What is known for
certain is that 





lots of fish are thriving in
the creek, especially 





in its several deep
pools and undercut banks, where 





they can hang out
and feed when flows get too 





low. One of the
Friends’ board members, Sean 





Welch, who walks
the creek weekly to conduct 





fish surveys, says he noticed
shallow gravel 





beds in the creek with
“tons of fry” after this 





year’s wet spring.
Others have seen large fish 





in the creek—close to a
foot long—although 





no one has witnessed them
spawning. 





On August 5, as the
city’s Kristin Hathaway 





was walking the stream with
consultants 





discussing plans for the
upcoming restoration 





project, she discovered
several dead trout 





in one of the pools. Hathaway then walked 





upstream and found East Bay
MUD conducting 





maintenance of its drinking
water pipes in the 





street a couple hundred feet
above the pool. A 





few hours later, the city
went back out to the 





site with the SF Bay Regional
Water Board and 





found dozens more dead fish.
While the cause 





of the fish kill is still
under investigation, there 





have been numerous problems
over the past 





decade with fish being killed
when chloram- 





ines—added to water
utility pipes to disinfect 





drinking water—have
been accidentally 





discharged into local
creeks. East Bay MUD’s John Schroeter says his 





agency is still conducting an
investigation of the incident but that East Bay MUD crews had







put in a new pipe and then
chlorinated it for 







24 hours to protect public
health. The water 





was then flushed from the
pipe into a tanker 





truck, where it underwent
dechlorination, says 





Schroeter. “Our crews
did what they were sup- 





posed to do; they
dechlorinated the superchlo- 





rinated water,” he
says. After the water sat in 





the tanker truck for two to
three hours, it was 





released via a
three-quarter inch hose into 





the storm drain system that
flows into Sausal 





Creek. “We added
almost half again as much 





dechlorinating agent as was
needed,” says 





Schroeter. “We have
no reason to believe the 





water wasn’t fully
dechlorinated.
According to 





an East Bay MUD report, the
superchlorinated 





water was over 200 ppm
chlorine (regular tap 





water is about 2 ppm). 





 





Schroeter says his agency is
still “looking 





at some issues” but
admits that the water 





from the tank was not tested
before it was 





released into the storm drain
and creek. “If 





anything,” says
Shroeter, “We probably erred 





on the side of
over-dechlorinating.” Schroeter 





says there was another
discharge of chlori- 





nated water into the creek
back in July when 





a truck knocked over a fire
hydrant and flooded 





Dimond Park (where the same
trout pool 





involved in the August 5
incident is located). 





“We’re looking
into that too. Maybe the fish 





were already stressed and
we’re seeing some 





residual effects.” Why
not discharge the 





dechlorinated water into the
sanitary sewer 





treatment system, just to be
on the safe side? 





“That is not normal
practice; normal practice 





is to dechlorinate and
release into the storm 





drain system.”
Nonetheless, as its maintenance 





operations continued on the
site, East Bay 





MUD began trucking the water
to its main 





wastewater treatment
plant. 





While the cause of the August
5 fish kill 





will probably be under
investigation for a 





while, water line breaks and
problems with 





chlorinated discharges and
fish kills have 





been a problem for years
around the Bay, 





with its aging pipes, and
itchy faults shaking 





the ground. Most water
purveyors in the Bay 





Area have switched to using
chloramines 





(chlorine and ammonia) to
disinfect drinking 





water because it lasts longer
than chlorine. 





But chloramines are highly
toxic to aquatic life, 





according to a May 19, 2009
SF Bay Regional 





Water Board letter to the
California Water 





Bay, washing out a
restoration project being 





done by the San Francisco PUC
and killing at 





least 32 steelhead. After a
spill in Berkeley’s 





Strawberry Creek a few years
ago that killed 





at least 30 Sacramento
suckers, another na- 





tive fish (see
“Chlorinated Clues,” ESTUARY, 





February 2006), the Water
Board held several 





meetings with East Bay MUD,
the public, and 





city officials with the goal
of encouraging East 





Bay MUD field personnel to
better respond 





to spills. Yet problems with
chloramine 





discharges into waterways
have continued. In 





the city of El Cerrito,
resident George McRae 





says Pacific chorus frogs
disappeared from 





Baxter Creek after multiple
discharges of 





chloramine-containing water
from East Bay 





MUD maintenance
activities. 





 





If chloramines are found to
have caused 





this kill and, if tests show
that the steelhead 





in Sausal Creek are
anadromous (migrate to 





the Bay and ocean and back),
NOAA Fisheries 





could prosecute for
“take” of a threatened spe- 





cies. Steelhead that are able
to make their way 





between creek and ocean are
covered by the 





“threatened”
listing while steelhead blocked by 





dams or culverts are not, and
the only way to 





prove whether these fish are
migratory or not 





is to sample their otoliths,
or inner-ear bones. 





Those tests show whether the
mother of the 





fish or the fish itself had
ever been in the ocean 





(it is impossible to test the
paternal side). Even 





if the fish are determined to
not be migratory, 





NOAA’s Dan Logan says
that the Department of 





Fish and Game and the Water
Board still have 





“longstanding clear
authority to enforce state 





laws or regs that relate to
either unpermitted 





killing of wildlife or
introduction of chemicals 





to a waterway, either
chemicals put in for 





preparing the water for human
consumption or 





chemicals put in to
dechlorinate.” 





While the bodies of the dead
fish from Sau- 





sal Creek await testing at
NOAA laboratories, 





the Friends’ Kimra
McAfee said she hopes 





something can be done to
prevent any further, 





similar incidents.
“Maybe something good can 





come out of something
terrible. What’s sad is 





that we try to educate every
creek neighbor to 





do everything they possibly
can for the creek, 





and this is our utility
district—if they screw 





up, then poof, the fish are
gone.” 





CONTACT:
coordinator at sausalcreek.org; 





jschroet at ebmud.com
  













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