[env-trinity] Eureka Times-Standard 9 18 10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Sep 20 10:49:41 PDT 2010
Water in limbo: Meetings with reclamation commissioner don't yield answer on
By John Driscoll
Humboldt County and the Hoopa Valley Tribe didn't get the up or down
decision they'd hoped for on a promise from Congress for billions of gallons
of Trinity River water when they met with U.S. Reclamation Commissioner Mike
Connor on Thursday.
But their request for the water -- 50,000 acre feet -- has been elevated to
the highest levels and will get a formal response within a few months,
according to those who attended the meetings. Humboldt County's 1955
contract for the water as part of the effort to dam the Trinity River has
not been honored, or, as has been maintained by the federal government for
years, it's already being released as part of a fisheries restoration
Humboldt County 5th District Supervisor Jill Duffy said that the county's
request had been lodged with other administrations and never fully
addressed. Duffy said that Connor pledged that the request would not be
swept under the rug this time.
Duffy said she came out of the meeting cautiously optimistic. Still, Duffy
said that the determination Connor makes will likely be less about whether
Humboldt County should get the water, and more about whether it should be in
addition to the fisheries restoration flows, or already included in those
"It's not whether or not we're going to get it," Duffy said, "it's how it's
going to be recognized."
The Hoopa Tribe has recently been assisting the county in the effort to
clear up the matter. Should another 50,000 acre feet of water be available
on the river each year, it could possibly be used to raise and cool water on
the Klamath River, where salmon can be susceptible to hot, low flows and
resulting disease. In 2002, some 68,000 salmon died in a low, warm river.
Whether that would be an allowable use for the water is not entirely certain
either, as Reclamation tends to view so-called beneficial uses as
consumptive, like for houses, industry or agriculture.
Hoopa Tribe fisheries director Mike Orcutt said that the tribal council's
separate meeting with Connor didn't yield an answer either, but that he was
receptive to the tribe's legal analysis of the 1955 act. The decision,
Orcutt expects, will be based entirely on the interpretation of the law.
"It's our water in my opinion," Orcutt said.
Orcutt said the tribe also discussed contract renewals with Central Valley
Project operators, some of whom are recipients of Trinity River water. The
tribe argued that those who benefit from the river's water should have to
contribute to funds to restore the river's fisheries, which have been
suppressed by the damming and diversion of the river.#
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
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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