[env-trinity] Trinity County wades back into water fight
jallen at trinitycounty.org
Mon Jan 23 09:54:44 PST 2006
Trinity County wades back into water fight
Trinity County supervisors on Wednesday weighed in on the state and
federal government's proposal to pump more water from the Sacramento
River Delta, a plan, they wrote, that could hurt fish in the Trinity and
The comments on the South Delta Improvements Program register complaints
that CalFed -- the state and federal plan to restore the delta and boost
water supplies -- ignores Northern California's salmon plight. Billions
of gallons of Trinity River water are sent to the Sacramento River each
year, and pumps in the delta send water on to farms and cities.
The program would draw down Trinity Lake too far in dry years, the
letter reads, reducing the amount of cold water available for salmon in
the Trinity and Klamath rivers.
"In particular, the analysis of impacts to Trinity Lake, Trinity River
fisheries and Trinity County recreation are not only inadequate, but
grossly misleading," the board of supervisors wrote.
The environmental document for the program does not consider reducing
exports from the delta, the letter reads. That could be done by retiring
land in the San Joaquin Valley, the board wrote, saving water to
increase storage in Trinity Lake to use for the Trinity River's
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has also in recent years used Trinity
River water to cool and raise the lower Klamath River. That's where up
to 68,000 chinook salmon died in 2002, the result of low flows, high
water temperatures and stress-related diseases.
Trinity County planner Tom Stokely said with both the delta's fish in
trouble and the Klamath and Trinity woes, it's irresponsible not to
consider reducing demand on the delta pumps.
"This is a plan to basically drain Northern California of its water
based on the false assumption that there's extra water up north,"
Stokely said. "This is the beginning of the north-south water wars
Kathy Kelly, chief of the state Department of Water Resources Bay-Delta
Office, said computer simulations show there would be no big affect to
Trinity Lake. They also show that water temperature increases won't harm
coho salmon or steelhead, she said.
But Trinity River chinook salmon -- the main commercial and recreational
species -- weren't specifically considered. Those salmon migrate into
the river in the early fall when water temperatures are highest, like
when the 2002 fish kill occurred.
"From what I can see we don't have the chinook on the Trinity evaluated
here," Kelly said.
Kelly also said that the program initially looked at reducing exports
from the delta, but "it was screened out" before the environmental
analysis got underway.
"The South Delta Improvements Program is not going to solve all the
issues we have out there," Kelly said.
Humboldt County supervisors are considering drafting a similar letter to
the state and federal governments.
John Driscoll covers natural resources/industry. He can be reached at
441-0504 or jdriscoll at times-standard.com.
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