Saturday, March 8, 2008

Water Enters Muted Tidal Area at Bolsa Chica

On Wed. March 5th, a floodgate was opened connecting the full tidal basin at Bolsa Chica with an area to the northwest. At higher tides, salt water flushes into the area. Here, Kelly O'Reilly with Cal. Fish and Game learns how to open and close the gate. 
Since the newly flooded area is surrounded by working oil fields, there are features in place to automatically close the gate if oil is detected in the water. One is the sensor you see here. If oil is detected, the gate automatically closes, reducing the amount of oil that could flow into the full tidal basin, and ultimately into the ocean. Also the metal box surrounding the tide gate has two foot openings near the bottom of the box for water to flow in and out of the muted tidal area through the west gate. Oil, being lighter than water will float on the top, and not through the holes at the bottom of the box. 
This is the gate on the full tidal basin side. Since the tide was so low when the gates were opened, no water moved into the muted tidal area. However at high tide water will flow until the tide rises high enough to cause the red floats near the top of the gate to move and close the gate. 

This photo was taken just after high tide Thursday morning, and you can see water has moved into the area behind the gate.

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