[env-trinity] Trinity Journal May 20, 2009

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed May 20 11:35:50 PDT 2009


Speaker: State's water woes certain to impact Trinity 
By AMY GITTELSOHN 





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by PHIL NELSON Tom Stokely discusses the state of California's water
management and its future impact on Trinity County. 

Poor water management made California's three-year drought worse than it had
to be, and proposed fixes - including revival of the peripheral canal
concept - could drain Trinity Lake even further, a guest speaker in
Weaverville said.

There will always be droughts - what is needed is better planning, said Tom
Stokely, a former Trinity County planner now working for a water advocacy
organization.

"They sent record amounts of water south," Stokely said. "If you drain your
reservoirs in the early part of the drought, it's really not going to do
much for you."

Last Thursday at the Trinity County Library in Weaverville, Stokely was the
first speaker in a series of water talks to be held in Trinity County.
Stokely is a water policy coordinator for the California Water Impact
Network (C-WIN). C-WIN's Web site states that it is a nonprofit which
advocates for the equitable and environmentally sensitive use of
California's water.



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Water exports from the North State have increased, going from 5 million
acre-feet in the 1980s to approximately 4.6 million acre feet in the 1990s
to 6 million acre-feet from 2000 to 2007. 2008, the diversion was 556,000
acre-feet and the river release was 641,000.

The diversions do benefit Trinity County in one way, Stokely said, in a nod
to the Trinity Public Utilities District.

"The Trinity River is the largest tributary of Clear Creek on the Sacramento
River," he said, "unfortunately for the Trinity River but good for our power
supply here."

Attempting to deliver full water allocations to agricultural and municipal
water users while complying with the record of decision has drained the
slow-filling Trinity Lake, Stokely said.

Overheated water from the low lake could add up to another salmon kill, he
said.

Cutbacks due to low reservoirs have affected farmers and caused water
rationing in some areas this year.

The drought is being used to push for more dams, a peripheral canal, more
water transported from Sacramento to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern
California, less water regulation, and less area of origin protection,
Stokely said, and "that's one of the big things Trinity's had in its favor."

"What we have now is a big scare going on," he said. "We don't think it was
an accident."

The idea of a peripheral canal to take water around the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta, the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas, was
rejected by California voters in 1982, but it has been revived by Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Delta Vision Task Force. Proponents contend that it
will protect endangered species harmed by pumping water through the Delta
for agricultural and urban use, while providing more reliable water
deliveries.

Opponents see that as an attempt to grab more North State water.

A peripheral canal will draw down Trinity Lake, Stokely said.

The State Water Resources Control Board has admitted over-allocating by four
to eight times the amount of water that exists, Stokely said, adding that
works fine in wet years, but in dry years it creates "a run on the bank."

The five-member water board is appointed and "one hundred percent controlled
by the governor of the State of California," he said.

Stokely also took aim at the Westlands Water District, which encompasses
more than 600,000 acres of farmland in western Fresno and Kings counties.
The Trinity River Division was completed in 1963, the same year Westlands
signed a 40-year water contract with the federal government.

Irrigation on the poorly draining lands has brought naturally occurring
selenium and other substances damaging to crops and wildlife to the surface,
and the federal government is on the hook to solve this problem under the
Westlands contract.

"The government stupidly signed a contract they couldn't fulfill", Stokely
said. "They've spent all their money Congress gave them to solve this
problem."

But a deal was proposed to permanently guarantee Westlands 1 million
acre-feet of CVP water annually in return for Westlands solving the problem
itself. That deal is stalled at the moment, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein has
made reaching an agreement with Westlands a priority, he said.

"These people are the junior water users in the state and they want to put
themselves at the first of the line," Stokely said.

Even during this drought year, he noted, farmers with longstanding water
rights are
getting their full CVP allocations, while Westlands is getting 10 percent
(up from preliminary forecasts after recent rains).

Ken Baldwin of Weaverville asked if wildlife is a public trust why the
projects that are harming wildlife aren't shut down by the state.

"They could but they won't," Stokely responded, reiterating that the water
board must be reformed.

Stokely said things to fight for include an enforceable minimum pool at
Trinity Lake during drought years so the lake is not drawn down too quickly.

He suggested that people against the idea of a peripheral canal write their
state and federal legislators and let them know they don't want to see that
in a water bond. Instead, he said, there should be measures that promote
regional self sufficiency for water, conservation and taking toxic lands out
of commission.

 

Diversions from the Trinity River via the Clear Creek tunnel, in the past as
high as 90 percent, have gone in the other direction with environmental
requirements such as the 2000 Trinity River Record of Decision. But a
significant amount is still diverted. Figures from the federal Bureau of
Reclamation show that in 2007, 615,500 acre-feet of water was diverted while
release to the river was 470,100. In 

 

 

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
(secondary)

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 

 

 

 

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