West Branch Feather River Bridge spans Lake Oroville in Northern California
Photo by Romeal Hogan
A weekly newsletter by and for Metropolitan employees
May 7, 2018
MWD is Taking the Lead on Key Salmon Studies
This is the fourth and final in our Earth Month series about some of Met's many environmental activities
To help reach a balance between environmental and urban water needs, Metropolitan supports many science programs and projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Recently, Metropolitan joined with UC Davis' Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute to host a Delta Science symposium on pathogens in Pacific salmon. Alison Collins, a biologist in Met's Bay-Delta Initiatives office was one of the event organizers.

Understanding the impacts of pathogens is essential because salmon play key ecological, social and economic roles for our state, and can impact water deliveries to our region. That's because in an average year, about one-third of Southern California's water supply flows through the Delta.

As one of speakers at the symposium, Alison said, “Information collected by Dr. Scott Foott from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service show there are rivers and years in which pathogens and disease seem to contribute to juvenile salmon mortality. This makes us want to explore linkages between environmental conditions, disease and impacts to population dynamics.”

Learning how other systems use pathogen monitoring and research to manage in-season disease effects on salmon is helpful. For example, in the Columbia River Basin, research shows that if a juvenile salmon displays no signs of pathogens, it is up to 4.5 times more likely to return as an adult. While pathogens may play a similar role in the Delta, the lack of a comprehensive pathogen monitoring program limits our understanding of impacts.

A better understanding of the stressors that contribute to salmon population declines will improve fish management and recovery actions. That's good for the environment and for water supplies.

Cleaning the CRA Tunnels
Hint: It's a Big Job
If you think spring cleaning at your house is a chore, imagine what it takes to clean the tunnels and canals of the Colorado River Aqueduct.

That’s exactly what Metropolitan’s 55-year-old tunnel cleaning machine does for roughly a month each year during the Colorado River Aqueduct shutdown.

Moving at about 4 mph, it travels through the CRA’s 92 miles of tunnels and 55 miles of conduit, using large brushes to scrape the inside walls of the pipe and remove scale and algae. Keeping the tunnels clean of dirt and debris ensures the CRA operates at maximum capacity.

The tunnel cleaning machine was first used April 4, 1963 and operated for many years. It is adapted from a 1961 Michigan Shovel Loader, designed by Alfred Preston, Joe Pipins, Doug Disel and Kent Brownsberger. It took five years of planning before the machine was operational.

Restored and reinstated in 2009, today’s machine operates even more efficiently thanks to the hard work of Crew Chief and Operator John Helton . But getting the tunnel cleaner operating isn’t a single-man job. It takes the coordination of about a 20-person crew including:

  • Aqueduct Maintenance Team (running the machine)

  • Construction Services Unit (providing crane, tunnel entry support)

  • Maintenance Support Unit (fabricating replacement parts)

  • Safety and Regulatory Services

  • Fleet Services
One exciting part of working with the machine is the perspective of an inside-out view of Met's incredible system, John says. “Following the water path through 16- to 22-ft diameter tunnels is a great way to understand Met’s ingenuity and rich history.” 
A New but Familiar Lead for WRM
The new Water Resource Management Group Manager, Brad Coffey, jokingly claims he’s “trapped in the DNA of an economist and an English teacher.” This might help explain the blend of environmental engineer, humanitarian and excellent editor which are only a few of Brad's many talents and traits.

Brad joined Metropolitan in 1990, but still feels much like he did when he first walked through Met’s doors. “This isn’t a promotion,” he explains, “but a new job.” Coming into his new position from Water Systems Operations, which deals mostly in real time, Brad explains how WRM is more future-looking. He describes the connection between these two worlds as a “beneficial mixing zone” that can bring different perspectives to the same set of data and issues to arrive at better solutions.

His vision for WRM includes five main areas:

  • Drought and climate change resiliency

  • Policy leadership

  • Regional cooperation and partnerships

  • Technical vision backed by scientific rigor (otherwise known as making WRM the 'Google' of the water resources community)

  • Operational awareness which involves supporting staff to innovate, publish articles and present at industry conferences.

Brad says he also looks forward to mentoring, a passion that extends beyond Met. He has hosted many international engineering and computer sciences students from UC Irvine and USC for their first “American Thanksgiving.” His connection to these students lasts long after a meal – he’ll be attending one of their weddings in India this fall.

An avid traveler, Brad has visited all seven continents (on the same 10-year passport) and enjoys hiking - including visiting volcanoes in Ecuador - philanthropic water work and spending time with his family.
New hires, transfers, promotions &
retirements are posted here each month.   
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