Many Central Coast rivers have periodic sand-bar lagoons at their mouths. These
lagoons open each winter with the first major storm, and close each spring.
They are important for fish pasage and steelhead smoltification habitat.
The CCoWS team from the Watershed Institute at CSUMB is studying the hydrology
and water quality of the Salinas and Carmel Lagoons in conjunction with various
Monterey County agencies. Both these lagoons are manually breached each year
to alleviate flooding problems, a process which must be closely monitored to
ensure minimal habitat impact. The Carmel Lagoon is also believed to be linked
to shallow groundwater systems in the lower Carmel Valley, leading to the possibility
that groundwater extractions may affect the lagoon ecology.