[env-trinity] Eureka Times-Standard - 4-5-09

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Apr 6 12:08:18 PDT 2009

Additional observations:

Based upon information indicating the highest probability being a "dry
water-type year" the Trinity Adaptive Management Working Group (TAMWG)
(3/19/09) and Trinity Management Council (TMC) (4/2/09) made recommendations
to implement a dry water-type year hydrograph with minor alterations.  The
Regional Directors of the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service (BOR/USFWS) will make the final call.  It is to be made as of April
1.  The recommendations are predicated upon the April forecast remaining a
dry year.  It appears we are solidly in a dry year but have a higher
probability of a normal year than a critically dry year.

Additionally, both TAMWG and TMC are very concerned about lake levels and
the cold water supply and have requested BOR Central Valley Operations (CVO)
to adjust operations and/or explain how they plan to comply with Water Right
Order 90-05.  In short, there are concerns that CVO and diversions to the
Sacramento side, which are not clearly explained anywhere, may deplete cold
water resources in Trinity Lake and violate 90-05.  CVO currently makes
annual plans without adequate concern for the future and often exports too
much water betting that the reservoir will be full at the beginning of next
year (an extremely low probability this year).



Trinity Lake level low, but resorts and Forest Service optimistic

The Eureka Times-Standard - 4/5/09

By John Driscoll

The state's system of reservoirs is trending toward bone dry, and the
popular Northern California summer-time haunt of Trinity Lake is no


Trinity Lake is 94 feet below high water -- 61 percent of the average since
1962. Going into a warm season following last year's wildfire-smoke choked
summer with one of the most refreshing assets of the region so depleted has
some people worried. 


"People are just not booking because of that," said Amy Kasper at Trinity
Lake Resorts and Marina. 


But even with the lake as low as it is, the Trinity County reservoir is
still huge. Full, it can store 2.4 million acre feet -- enough water to
cover 2.4 million acres one foot deep. At its current level, it is holding
1.2 million acre feet. 


That means that six of seven boat ramps on the lake are well out of water
and are likely to stay that way this season. The Minersville boat ramp has
plenty of leeway, usable to about 200 feet below high water, said
Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area Recreation Resource Officer Mary
Ellen Grigsby. 


Grigsby added that the 17,000-acre lake still has 8,000 to 10,000 acres of
surface water even at its low stage -- plenty to fish, swim and boat. 


"Once you get out on it, it's still a big lake," Grigsby said. 


Those concerned about Trinity Lake's levels can also hit the smaller
Lewiston and Whiskytown lakes, Grigsby said, both of which are kept full to
serve hydropower operations. 


The state Department of Water Resources last week released the results of
its snowpack surveys, which found California little better off than when
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a drought state of emergency at the end
of February. The snowpack average is 81 percent of normal, not nearly enough
to replenish the state's reservoirs after two years of drought. 


Some of those storage facilities are perilously low, like Lake Oroville at
56 percent capacity, which has prompted water conservation measures in many


While the Trinity River watershed's snowpack measurements were being
completed Friday, it appears that they will come in at between 75 and 80


"It's certainly in that ballpark," said Frank Gehrke, chief of California's
Cooperative Snow Surveys Program. 

Gehrke said that up to 10 percent of the runoff from that snowmelt will
likely be absorbed by soils parched from the dry fall. 


That means less water to fill the lake. While the forecast used to determine
how releases from Lewiston Dam into the Trinity River will be managed is
still being drawn up, the amount of water sent to the river for salmon --
and how much is diverted to the Sacramento River for Central Valley farms --
can also affect the level of Trinity Lake. That schedule should be finalized
in mid-April. 


The year is so far being considered "critically dry," in which the least
water is let down the river, said Pete Lucero, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation. But the river flows and diversion to the Sacramento could
also draw down the reservoir to some 720,000 acre feet, dropping the
elevation of the lake even farther. 


However, Lucero said, February and March wet weather may push that to a
slightly damper forecast which would come close to maintaining the lake
level through the season. 


"Things could change if April brings us major weather events," Lucero said.
"I've looked at the long-term forecast and I haven't seen anything like


It's almost certain that, barring big storms, Trinity Lake will remain low.
Grigsby said, however, that she expects campgrounds to be more full than
they were during last year's smoky summer. Without wildfires, and with gas
prices far below last year's, Grigsby said, people will undoubtedly show up.


"We still have plenty of water to go boating and all that other stuff,"
Kasper said.



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

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