[env-trinity] Times-Standard: Calif. farmers sue over water for Klamath salmon; Hoopa Tribe: Releases may not be enough
tstokely at att.net
Fri Aug 9 08:27:24 PDT 2013
Calif. farmers sue over water for Klamath salmon; Hoopa Tribe: Releases may not be enough
Gosia Wozniacka/The Associated Press
POSTED: 08/09/2013 02:36:19 AM PDT | UPDATED: ABOUT 6 HOURS AGO
Click photo to enlarge
FRESNO -- Farmers in California's San Joaquin Valley are suing the federal government over the planned release of water from a Northern California reservoir to prevent a salmon kill in the lower Klamath River.
The suit alleges the release from the Trinity Reservoir would be unlawful and would further decrease the little water available to farmers for irrigation. It was filed Wednesday by the Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The Trinity River is the main tributary of the Klamath. A large portion of Trinity water usually is sent south into the Sacramento River and is piped to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley through the Central Valley Project.
Farmers in the Westlands Water District, the nation's largest federal irrigation district, and others on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley say they desperately need the Trinity water to help deal with severe water shortages next year. The farmers have received just 20 percent of their water deliveries this year, leading them to fallow thousands of acres of land and rely on groundwater.
And next year, unless a very wet winter restores nearly empty reservoirs, the farmers predict they might get little or no water -- and the lack of Trinity River water would further reduce their deliveries.
Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Pete Lucero said the agency could not comment on the pending lawsuit.
But federal authorities said they planned to release the Trinity water to the Klamath River to prevent a repeat of a 2002 fish kill that left tens of thousands of salmon dead before they could spawn -- the fish died from gill rotting diseases because there was not enough water for them to swim upstream.
The Bush administration that year restored irrigation to farms in Oregon and California, one year after those farms were denied water during a drought to help threatened salmon and other fish survive in the Klamath basin.
Following that fish kill and prompted by predictions of large salmon runs and drier than normal conditions, the Bureau of Reclamation in 2003, 2004 and 2012 released water from the Trinity for salmon in the lower Klamath.
Tom Stokely, a water policy analyst for the California Water Impact Network, said the current situation is eerily reminiscent of 2002.
”It's deja vu all over again,” Stokely said in a statement. “Back in 2002, these same water agencies blocked downstream releases of Trinity River water, which could have prevented the deaths of tens of thousands of adult salmon. Now they want to do it again.”
Stokely also conceded that more water has been promised to stakeholders than is available.
”The bottom line is that the Bureau of Reclamation has promised to deliver much more water than is available in the system,” he said. “These conflicts will only worsen until water contracts and water rights conform with hydrologic reality.”
This year, authorities say the Klamath River is expecting a very large fall run of Chinook salmon, yet the river is extremely low.
The bureau has said it plans to release up to 62,000 acre feet of Trinity water, plus an additional 39,000 acre feet of emergency water if fish show signs of disease, to the Klamath from Aug. 13 until the end of September.
Environmental groups and Indian tribes applauded the releases, but some said they might not provide enough water to save the salmon.
”We need more water, and we need it sooner,” said Hoopa Fisheries Director Michael Orcutt.
Times-Standard staff writer Thadeus Greenson contributed to this report.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Size: 5361 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20130809/989bda5f/20130809__lead_klamath_VIEWER-0001.jpg
More information about the env-trinity