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Water Quality

Shasta Safe Harbor Agreement Project,
Big Springs Salmon Restoration Project

QuB Monitoring Station

Site Hawk screen showing locations

Monitoring electronics

Monitoring Systems located in Siskiyou County, California, has a network of data collection stations along Big Springs Creek and the Shasta River that collect information on water temperature, stage (water depth), and flow (calculated from stage). A new data point is collected every 15 minutes and these data are transmitted live for web viewing.


The system enables ranch managers to compare the temperature of the irrigation water to the creek water and decide whether returning unused irrigation water would impair thermal conditions in the creek. As anadromous salmonids are sensitive to water temperature, keeping water temperatures within specified guidelines is critical to ensuring the recovery
of these species.

Project Background

Safe Harbor Agreements (SHA) are a way to encourage landowners to adopt specific conservation practices that contribute to the recovery of Salmon and Steelhead species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For volunteering to undertake activities on their property to enhance, restore, or maintain beneficial habitat, the landowners gain some assurance their land use practices will not be restricted. Designing and implementing an effective SHA is not a pain-free process, but hopefully they
end up creating an environment for collaborative cooperation between landowners, conservationists and scientists and gives all parties the satisfaction of improving
fish habitat and being good stewards of the Earth's natural resources.

Primary recovery responsibilities for Pacific salmon belong to the Department of Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA). The SHA is an attempt to find a way to work with landowners rather than against them to change or avoid practices that violate the ESA so as to avoid fines and hard restrictions on a landowners use of their land. Some specific conservation methods that might be included in a SHA are:


  • Removing fish passage barriers to habitat (e.g. undersized culverts, water diversion structures, small dams)

  • Managing diversion waters into or out of a natural waterway

  • Planting riparian vegetation

  • Maintaining a vegetated buffer along streams

  • Adding wood to streams

  • Enhancing streamflow

  • Improving access

Software Displays for Water Temperature

Monitoring station locations

Daily temperature variations

Annual temperature for 3 year term

Ranch managers can observe water temperatures at multiple locations on the creek and in diversion canals and return flow facilities, and use this information to operate in a manner that would minimize temperature impacts due to irrigation return flow. Differences between irrigation water in off-stream canals and the water in Big Springs Creek in real-time are accessible to water managers, allowing them to release water back into the creek when temperature differences were within acceptable limits.

More details on our blog

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