[env-trinity] Trinity Journal 10-7-09

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Oct 8 10:29:57 PDT 2009


Current SWRCB Water Permits granted the Bureau allow it to divert 90 percent
of Trinity's water.  They need to be amended to reflect flows contained in
the ROD - a 53 percent diversion of Trinity water with 47 percent returned
to Trinity River.

Byron

County protests water rights request 
BY SALLY MORRIS THE TRINITY JOURNAL 



Trinity County supervisors voted 5-0 last week to hire well-known California
water attorney Michael Jackson of Quincy to file a protest on the county's
behalf concerning Trinity River water rights hearings currently pending
before the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento. 

The Bureau of Reclamation has petitioned the State Water Board for an
extension to the year 2030 on certain Central Valley Project water rights
permits, including seven on the Trinity River, allowing more time to put the
water allocated under the permits to what it calls "full beneficial use." 

Originally granted to Reclamation in 1959, but never developed, the Trinity
River permits in question promise allocations amounting to millions of
acre-feet of water in addition to what is already diverted to the CVP for
irrigation, municipal and industrial deliveries, fish and wildlife
enhancement, water quality control and power generation. An acre-foot is
enough water to cover an acre of land to a depth of 1 foot. 

A notice of the petition for time extension on the permits was published
Sept. 3 and with a deadline of Oct. 5 for the filing of any protests, the
Trinity County Board of Supervisors met in a special session last week in
order to take timely action. 

In a closed session, board members voted to protest the requested extension
of CVP water rights filed by Reclamation. They then agreed to retain
attorney Michael Jackson to file the protest on the county's behalf. 

Jackson is an environmental lawyer who has spent many years specializing in
Northern California water rights, serving as legal counsel to the Regional
Council of Rural Counties, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
and numerous other government and environmental entities including the
nonprofit advocacy group California Water Impact Network. 

County Administrative Officer Dero Forslund estimated the county's legal
fees to initiate the protest will amount to approximately $5,000. If there
is further action required, additional compensation would have to be
negotiated in a separate agreement. 

Forslund said the Bureau of Reclamation has rights to a significant amount
of Trinity River water in the CVP, some of which has not been used since the
permits were originally applied for "and now they want to extend those
permits 30 years. In our protest, we're saying 'no - if you haven't used the
permits, they shouldn't be left sitting at the will of the Bureau of
Reclamation.'" 

"We are concerned about county of origin rights and we want a seat at the
table," he added, noting a major problem with the permits issued in 1959 is
that they bear no relation to the in-stream flows set forth years later in
the Trinity River Fishery Restoration Record of Decision. 

The permits in question are based on minimum in-stream flows amounting to
just 120,500 acre feet of water a year, or 10 percent of the Trinity's
water. The Trinity ROD, signed in 2000 by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt,
increased the minimum in-stream flow to an average of 594,500 acre-feet of
water a year which is approximately 48 percent of the river's water. 

Forslund said Reclamation has not changed its sale and distribution of water
relative to the ROD, "and we think they should - they are selling more water
than they have." 

Reclamation indicates it is in the public interest for the State Water Board
to grant the requested extension of time it says is needed to put all the
water appropriated under the permits to full beneficial use. The agency
cites increasing municipal and industrial water demands within the CVP and
the need for additional diversions of water to comply with possible
environmental conditions that may be applied in the future under the Bay
Delta Conservation Program and Federal Endangered Species Act. 

Supervisor Judy Pflueger said the requested time extension on the permits
provides Trinity County "with a rare opportunity to get involved in the
water issue. I feel we've been uncompensated for our water going down the
hill. We're looking for a seat at the table and perhaps compensation down
the road." 

Supervisor Roger Jaegel said he thinks the "beneficial uses" of Trinity
River water within the boundaries of Trinity County "are extremely important
and these extensions would extend those permits for water to be used outside
of Trinity County." He added that if the county doesn't speak up now
concerning the permit extensions, it won't likely get another opportunity to
comment. 

During a previous discussion about the water permits, Supervisor Howard
Freeman suggested legal recourse, saying "many times the only way to a seat
at that table is not by issuing a position, but by throwing a big monkey
wrench in." 

Trinity County's retired senior resource planner Tom Stokely commented later
that the board's protest "gets the county's foot in the door so it will have
official standing in future proceedings. It's also a great opportunity to
demonstrate issues with the Trinity River that the state board needs to pay
attention to and I've been harping about for years - the ROD's minimum flows
and the minimum temperature objectives that have never been implemented
through a water rights hearing. That all needs to be tidied up." 

He added the state has appropriated 8.5 times more water through approved
permits than actually exists in the state and with a three-year drought "and
the rapid drawdown of Trinity Lake, it's apparent to anyone who sees it that
the Trinity River is already more than fully appropriated." 


 

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

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(secondary)

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