[env-trinity] Trinity Journal- County formally opposes peripheral tunnels plan

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Wed Nov 28 11:15:37 PST 2012


http://www.trinityjournal.com/news/environment/article_4f970806-3907-11e2-86fe-001a4bcf6878.html 
County formally opposes peripheral tunnels plan
By Sally Morris The Trinity Journal | Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 6:15 am
Arguing the process is flawed and fails to protect any of Trinity County’s water and power interests, the county Board of Supervisors has gone on record in formal opposition to the proposed Bay-Delta Conservation Plan’s construction of two peripheral tunnels designed to deliver more water from the Sacramento River to Southern California.
In a four-page resolution drafted by a board-appointed ad hoc committee of volunteers and adopted in November, the county opposes the proposed plan that includes construction of the tunnels and requests that all of the county’s elected state and federal representatives actively do the same.
The county’s letter to Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar and California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird also demands status as a coordinating agency with regard to further revision and adoption of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan.
The board’s resolution details many reasons for its position, calling the current process of revising the Bay Delta Conservation Plan governmentally, economically and scientifically flawed, saying that with no regard for Trinity County, it would allow water users to sell, transfer and convey so-called surplus Public Trust water for private profit.
The board claims county of origin rights as well as in-stream flow guarantees for fisheries set forth in the Trinity River Main Stem Fishery Restoration Record of Decision of 2000. It advocates for a minimum pool in Trinity Lake of 1.25 million acre-feet of water to meet state and federal flow requirements and water quality objectives in the Trinity River during a multi-year drought.
The county’s resolution also defends the county’s first preference rights to power generated by the Trinity River Division of the Central Valley Project, arguing that the draft EIR/EIS will increase total CVP energy use and result in a dramatic increase in the Trinity Public Utilities District’s cost of power.
It notes that the proposed plan would deliver full contract amounts for CVP and state water project to contractors that would necessitate increased imports from the Trinity River watershed. It argues that diverting additional water from the Trinity River would lower reservoir levels and make less water available for beneficial uses within Trinity County including development of community water systems, individual water systems, agriculture and biomass facilities; cold water storage for fishery survival during multiple drought years; and recreation, the county’s largest industry sector for employment.
The resolution indicates that because Trinity Lake only has a 15 percent chance of refilling each year, additional diversions would result in an increased frequency of “dead pool” occurrences.
It notes that prolonged reductions in reservoir storage will result “in adverse conditions that could persist for decades, resulting in loss of salmon and steelhead fisheries; loss of critical recreation businesses; loss of hydropower generation; loss of local water supplies; decline in property values; loss of jobs; loss of county population.”
The letter concludes that the proposed revisions and draft EIS/EIR being considered by the governor, state and federal agencies “all fail to protect the interests of Trinity County as an area and county of origin within the Trinity-Klamath watershed. Until such time as adequate assurances and protections for the public trust, riparian and county of origin rights, as well as protections for Trinity Lake, Trinity River fisheries, temperature compliance, Trinity County First Preference power rights and Trinity County communities are provided to Trinity County, the Board of Supervisors opposes the plan and construction of the peripheral tunnels.”
Members of the ad hoc committee included Supervisors Debra Chapman and Judy Pflueger; former county supervisor Arnold Whitridge and former natural resources planner Tom Stokely; Weaverville attorney Elizabeth Johnson; TPUD General Manager Paul Hauser; and County Administrative Officer Wendy Tyler.
Tyler noted the group’s initial draft resolution was nine pages long and the committee vetted many additional issues, “but then we chose to keep it simple to convey it to the Legislature and give the public several talking points if they also want to contact their representatives.”
She said the committee will present more detailed, scientific arguments in December when it is time for the county to provide that input on the draft EIR/EIS, “but this gets us a seat at the table and I am very grateful for the expertise that was provided to us by volunteers. The process was cordial, but there are a lot of interests and opinions that generated a lot of discussion.”
Board Chairman Roger Jaegel said he believes it will come down to a legal battle for the county to assert its county of origin water rights over water permit requirements that are an estimated six times greater than what is actually available.
He said the impact of the proposed tunnels “is the transmission of water in a quantity that was never possible before. Once the tunnels are constructed, the ability is going to be there to transfer much more water south than they’ve had capacity to do before, but every drop that falls in Trinity County is considered our county of origin water right.”
Sup. Judy Morris commented that water “is a multi-layered, complex issue. We are a county of origin, but there are a lot of other counties opposing these tunnels on other grounds and some have contracts that they consider to be rights when they aren’t.”
Trinity County Agriculture Commissioner Mark Lockhart commended the board’s enthusiasm, but noted “there is no more complex body of law than California water law. I just want to get on the record that protecting the county’s rights will be no easy task. If you dive in head first, you may hit cement, but I wish you luck.”

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