[env-trinity] Trinity Flow Reduction??

Byron bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed May 7 14:04:35 PDT 2008

Feds weigh Trinity water shift

The Times-Standard - 5/6/08

BY John Driscoll

Federal water managers are considering a midstream move to cut water
releases to the Trinity River during a year when points south are bracing
for drought. 

The unusual shift would have the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation downgrade flows
on the Trinity to what's released in a dry year instead of a normal year.
The difference is 630 billion gallons, some of which has already flowed


Northern California river advocates see the move as a sign that the
Sacramento River water system -- to which nearly 50 percent of Trinity water
is exported -- has been badly mismanaged, and they worry that the Trinity
River's salmon and steelhead fisheries could suffer for it. 


Reclamation spokesman Jeff McCracken said that the possible decision just
accounts for the exceptionally dry conditions the state experienced in March
and April. 


"There are people rationing around this state," McCracken said. 


Any decision will be based on information the bureau gets this week from the
California Department of Water Resources, McCracken said. 


The groundwork for a reduction in flows to the Trinity was set by a Friday
directive from the bureau's Mid-Pacific Regional Director Donald Glaser,
appointed to the post just last week. 


In a Saturday e-mail to the multi-agency, tribal and stakeholder council
that helps manage the river, Bureau Area Manager Brian Persons laid out the
direction to develop a transition from a normal to a dry year if needed. 


The bureau has used April 1 as the cutoff date to get snowpack information
for the Trinity. It then sets the releases meant to help restore the river's
fisheries, with high flows in April, May and June. Those increased flows
have already started, and now the bureau is considering cutting back as soon
as this week. 


Trinity County Principal Planner Tom Stokely said reclamation may blame the
shortfall on nature, but the reality is that increased pumping from the
Sacramento delta in recent years is unsustainable. It's led to a crisis for
the endangered delta smelt and the collapse of salmon stocks that led to a
federal decision to shut down salmon season this year, Stokely said. 


"We're next if we keep this up," he said. 


U.S. Judge Oliver Wanger recently ruled in a scalding decision that the
National Marine Fisheries Service's blessing of the bureau's 2004 delta plan
was "inexplicably inconsistent" with the agency's charge to protect
threatened salmon. He also ruled that the agency completely failed to
consider the effects climate change might have on fish. 


The criteria for Trinity River water releases was set in a 2000 decision
signed by former U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, and was entered into
the federal register. The decision was litigated by San Joaquin water
interests, and the suit was decided in favor of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and
other Trinity River parties. 


That record of decision does not allow for changing the flows after April 1.
But Persons wrote in the e-mail that the operating plan for the Central
Valley Project does consider such a shift. 


Environmental Defense Fund analyst Spreck Rosekrans said that the bureau
wants to reserve the additional water for uses other than Trinity fisheries,
which would be a significant breach of trust. 


"We've got a deal and we're in the middle of the game," Rosekrans said, "and
they're trying to change the rules."



Byron Leydecker

Friends of Trinity River, Chair

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810

415 519 4810 cell

415 383 9562 fax

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)




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