[env-trinity] Trinity Journal 9 8 2010

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Sep 8 16:43:44 PDT 2010


Humboldt seeks its share of Trinity River water 

BY AMY GITTELSOHN THE TRINITY JOURNAL 

Humboldt County has stepped up efforts to gain an additional 50,000
acre-feet of water annually down the Trinity River it has long contended the
county is owed. 

With assistance from the Hoopa Valley and Yurok tribes, it seems Humboldt
may be gaining some traction with the federal Bureau of Reclamation. 

Humboldt argues that the water was promised when the 1955 Act to dam Trinity
River water and divert it to the Central Valley was approved. 

The Bureau of Reclamation's stance historically has been that the 50,000
acre-feet is included in the water sent down the river for fisheries. 

"We are actually re-evaluating our position on that 50,000 acre-feet," said
Pete Lucero, a public affairs officer for the federal agency. 

Representatives of Humboldt County and the tribes are scheduled to meet with
Reclamation Commissioner Mike Conner on Sept. 16. There is no particular
deadline for Reclamation's decision, Lucero said. 

Lucero said that after the meeting the agency will have a better idea of
what steps to take next. 

>From the Hoopa Valley Tribe, fisheries communications coordinator Allie
Hostler said it is hoped that Trinity County will support these efforts.
Although Trinity County supported the diversion, Hostler noted that it did
so in the belief that basin needs would be cared for and water would be
available for future growth. 

Trinity County has not taken a stand on this issue. 

The Trinity County Board of Supervisors has not yet been approached by
Humboldt County or the tribes seeking support, said Board Chair Judy
Pflueger. 

As to whether the Trinity board would support the Humboldt effort or not,
"I'd have to research the facts and the board would have to take a vote on
it," she said. 

Hostler said if the effort is successful it will result in less water sent
south for Central Valley Project use, not in a lower Trinity Lake. 

"We wouldn't support that," she said. "It's water being used south. It's
already leaving the reservoir." 

"They've been getting it - in our opinion illegally - for 50 years," she
said. 

In fact, she said, in a wet year Humboldt could decide to leave its water in
the lake so water released to the river would be cooler for fish. 

In addition to the tribes, Humboldt's efforts also have the support of the
Willow Creek Community Services District which draws water from the river. 

Regarding next week's meeting with Reclamation, Hostler said, "Getting them
to revisit that original opinion, we think, is a milestone." 

Humboldt County and the tribes point to two separate provisions to the 1955
Act that enabled the Trinity River diversion. One calls for preservation and
propagation of fish and wildlife through measures including flow releases.
The second says, "not less than 50,000 acre-feet shall be released annually
from Trinity Reservoir and made available to Humboldt County and downstream
water users." 

"Humboldt County and the tribes, they fought tooth and nail for the water in
the '50s, and it has never been realized," Hostler said. 

As to what Humboldt County would do with the water, Hostler said it could be
put to either consumptive or "beneficial use" in the basin. For example, she
said, Humboldt County could choose to add the water to the current fisheries
flows when necessary to keep the Lower Klamath River cool for fish. 

It could be used to offset water drawn from the Trinity River downstream of
the dam that has cut into the fisheries flows, she said. 

Even if Reclamation's decision goes against them, Hostler said Humboldt and
the tribes will continue pursuing the water. If it is a favorable opinion,
she said, the next step will be to figure out a flow schedule for the water.


 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land/fax

415 519 4810 mobile

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