A hydropower flume sprung a major leak in Upper Butte Creek, above Chico, California on the 9th of August, 2023, spilling millions of gallons onto a forested hillside, and triggering a landslide which dumped over 1,000 cubic yards of rock, gravel, dirt, and clay into Butte Creek. This event caused widespread water pollution on the creek. This event was of special concern because Butte Creek hosts one of the only remaining wild Chinook salmon runs in California’s Central Valley. This year less than 500 fish are in the creek, down from over 20,000 last year. Heavy sediment is harmful to the fish, and if the heavy muck from the landslide covers gravels in the tail-end of pools downstream, it may make it hard for the fish to spawn this fall.
This video looks at the circumstances of the canal failure and resulting environmental damage. Production of this video was sponsored by Friends of Butte Creek – http://www.buttecreek.org