Evaluation of two low-flow releases from Big Tujunga Reservoir, Los Angeles County, California, 2003

Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5003




Since 1973, the Santa Ana Sucker (Catostomus santaanae) has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The Lower Big Tujunga Creek, in Los Angeles County, is one of the areas in southern California where the Santa Ana Sucker is still present. This study was designed to assess two flow releases from Big Tujunga Dam that may contribute to favorable habitat conditions for the Santa Ana Sucker. It is important for the Santa Ana Sucker's survival that pools in the lower reach of the study area are replenished periodically. The focus of the study area was on the Lower Big Tujunga Creek within a reach extending approximately 6 miles downstream from the Big Tujunga Reservoir. Six sites were established from the Big Tujunga Dam to Delta Flats day-use area for data collection. This report describes the study design, discharge measurements, and the flow data collected from the two releases. Two scheduled flows (phases 1 and 2) were released from the Big Tujunga Reservoir in August and September 2003. During the first phase, which lasted 50 hours, travel times from the dam to four sites downstream were determined. Arrival times at the four sites were determined on the basis of temperature data. Travel time from the dam to site 6 (the furthest downstream site) was about 51.5 hours. Travel times for subreaches were 3 hours from site 1 to site 2, 6.5 hours from site 2 to site 3, almost 18 hours from site 3 to site 4, and 24 hours from site 4 to site 6. The temperature probe at site 5 was destroyed, and thus the arrival time could not be estimated. A probe that measures stage was placed in one of the many pools downstream from site 4 to evaluate a typical pool response to a low-flow release. Also, discharge measurements were taken at four sites along the study reach. In phase 2, which lasted 5 days (121 hours), flow losses along the 6-mile reach were analyzed. Losses were estimated by measuring difference in flow from the dam to sites 3, 4, 5, and 6, when flow was most stable at each site or when the last measurement made before flow decreased due to flow from dam being shut off. Losses in the plunge pool, directly below the dam were assumed to be negligible for this study. Overall creek loss between the dam and site 6 (the last site) was estimated to be between 4.0 and 4.2 ft3/s (cubic feet per second). Estimated losses between the dam and intermediate sites were about 1.5 ft3/s to site 3; 2.5 ft3/s to site 4; and between 3.7 and 4.1 ft3/s to site 5.

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Evaluation of two low-flow releases from Big Tujunga Reservoir, Los Angeles County, California, 2003
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Scientific Investigations Report
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19 p.