[env-trinity] Chico ER: Put water to local use first

Ara Azhderian ara.azhderian at sldmwa.org
Fri Aug 16 08:53:14 PDT 2013

Thanks Tom,

Here's another perspective to consider from the Chico Enterprise-Record editorial comments section:

The judge's decision has nothing to do with north state or south state water "desires." There are quantities set aside for both under federal law. What is in question is whether or not the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation can take more water than the law provides. Reclamation had more than 400,000 acre-feet of water, enough to farm about 160,000 acres or to meet the daily needs of 800,000 Californians, to use for fishery protection this year. Rather than properly plan to legally provide supplemental flows to minimize the effect of diseases that exist on the Klamath River on an expected near historic number of salmon returning to spawn, they choose instead to try and take this water from other legal uses including protection of endangered species, management of waterfowl, clean power generation, recreation, industry, daily human needs, and, yes, farming. Regarding the question of what the judge's ruling means for the future, northern California residents should take comfort from a decision to not allow an illegal infringement upon water rights to occur.

Mike Wade
California Farm Water Coalition

From: env-trinity-bounces+ara.azhderian=sldmwa.org at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us [mailto:env-trinity-bounces+ara.azhderian=sldmwa.org at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us] On Behalf Of Tom Stokely
Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2013 2:55 PM
To: env-trinity at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us
Subject: [env-trinity] Chico ER: Put water to local use first

Editorial: Put water to local use first

Chico Enterprise-Record
Posted:   08/15/2013 12:41:01 AM PDT

Our view: A judge shouldn't allow this year's salmon to be sacrificed for next year's crops in the distant San Joaquin Valley.

In a shocking decision that should make all Northern Californians wary of those in the south state who covet our water, north state water needs are taking a backseat to south state desires.

Let's hope this is just temporary insanity. The federal court, even though it's based in the San Joaquin Valley, should be able to figure out that this year's salmon, not next year's crops, are a more pressing concern.

For now, San Joaquin Valley farming interests have won out. The massive Westlands Water District and a couple of others filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government's release of water from Trinity Lake to help salmon downstream of where the Trinity River runs into the Klamath River.

A decade ago, tens of thousands of salmon died in the lower Klamath during a drought. Low flows and warm water contributed to the killing. The federal government hoped that releases of cold water from Trinity Lake would help matters this year.

But the San Joaquin Valley water district thinks the water many hundreds of miles away belongs to its farmers, not to the North Coast residents and their salmon. Much Trinity Lake water - too much in our opinion - is already piped down to the San Joaquin by our state's convoluted plumbing system. It's sent through a mountain into Whiskeytown Lake, into Clear Creek, then the Sacramento River, which allows Westlands to suck more water out of the delta.

That whole Rube Goldberg contraption works just fine until there's a dry year, then everybody starts fighting and the Westlands farmers forget the water really isn't theirs to begin with.

They sued to stop the releases, which were supposed to begin Tuesday. A U.S. District Court judge from Fresno agreed to halt them, at least until Friday. Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill said holding off for a few days would allow the court to "consider a reply and perform a more measured analysis of the issues."

Maybe three days without colder water won't kill any adult salmon. We'll see. But we're surprised the judge would take that risk.

Let's hope the "measured analysis" includes the fact that the salmon runs were in poor shape just a few years ago, and anglers were restricted from fishing until the salmon stocks recovered. We see no reason San Joaquin Valley growers shouldn't have to make similar sacrifices during a drought. There's never been a guaranteed water supply to them, nor should there be. They decided to plant in an arid area augmented by imported water.

The farmers aren't worried about water in the next couple of months, like the salmon are. Harvest is upon us. They don't need more now. Rather, they're concerned that lowering the lake this summer could make it harder to fill this coming winter. But this year's salmon should take precedence over next year's cotton and grapes, because it might indeed be a wet winter. Don't sacrifice the salmon on account of unpredictable Mother Nature.

Beyond that, though, it makes us wonder what would happen if Gov. Jerry Brown built the twin tunnels he is advocating. In a dry year, would everybody south of the delta believe they owned the water that comes from the north? Would they tell us we need to sacrifice a few fish in our rivers so they could have more water? Or that we should fallow our crops so they can grow theirs? Yeah, probably - and that's why we don't like the idea.

# # #

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20130816/f3d7407e/attachment.html

More information about the env-trinity mailing list