High temps, low water lead to Lake Camanche fish kill

High temperatures and low water apparently led to a substantial fish kill at Lake Camanche over the weekend. (Monday, June 29, 2015)

IONE - High temperatures and low water apparently led to a substantial fish kill over the weekend on the northern side of Lake Camanche.

"Just driving by yesterday, we looked down and noticed the the whole shoreline was covered with dead fish," said Nick Rider, who lives nearby.

Vultures and pelicans were still feeding on the carcasses Monday in an arm of the lake fed by Rabbit Creek.

A spokesperson for the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which operates the lake, said the fish kill was not related to any specific reservoir operations.

"We believe the dead fish are a natural consequence of the drought-- high temperatures and low dissolved oxygen likely occurring in the Rabbit Creek arm," Abby Figueroa said in an email to News10.

An examination of public documents suggests a project aimed at harvesting up to 6,000 acre feet of water trapped in the Rabbit Creek arm may be at least partly to blame for the fish kill.

In late 2014, the Amador County Department of Transportation and Public Works installed a four-foot culvert near the base of the dam that serves as the roadbed for Camanche Parkway North. The culvert allows the free flow of water between Rabbit Creek and the main body of Lake Camanche that had been cut off when the original culvert collapsed in 2006.

Without the culvert, the level of the Rabbit Creek arm rose independently of the main lake level-- but now the smaller body of water has become a shallow, stagnant pool.

Figueroa said EBMUD was unaware of any problems with the fish until an employee noticed unusual pelican activity on Friday.

Michaela Rider, Nick's wife, wishes someone could have anticipated the fish kill.

"All they would have to do would be to say 'calling all fishermen,'" she said. "And the shores would have been packed."


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