[env-trinity] Redding.com: Fishery and wildlife groups critical of LaMalfa

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Thu May 7 08:17:30 PDT 2015


Fishery and wildlife groups critical of LaMalfa

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| Fishery and wildlife groups critical of LaMalfaFisheries and environmental groups say the bill's amendments could cause a fish die-off in the Klamath River. |
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Fishery and wildlife groups critical of LaMalfa
ADDRESS:
Damon Arthur 
6:36 PM, May 6, 20157:03 PM, May 6, 2015local news | homepage showcase | tablet showcase | happening now  Copyright Associated PressFILE PHOTOSHOW CAPTIONREDDING, California - An amendment to a House appropriations bill to limit the amount of water sent down the Trinity River has come under fire from fish and wildlife groups that say the move could lead to a massive fish die-off downstream in the Klamath River.The amendment, by U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, would prohibit releasing more water from Lewiston Dam into the Trinity River in late summer to keep salmon from becoming sickened by fish diseases.LaMalfa said the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which controls the dam, should not be allowed to send more water downstream than allowed under 15-year-old agreement called the “Record of Decision.”“Despite the state’s historic drought, the bureau has diverted far more water for environmental purposes than the Record of Decision allows, depriving the state of water that could supply hundreds of thousands of Californians,” LaMalfa said in a recent news release.“We need every drop we can spare during this crisis, and this amendment will put an end to this misuse,” LaMalfa said.The amendment was added to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which the House approved last week.During the past three years the bureau has sent higher levels of colder water down the river to flush fish diseases out of the Klamath River.In the fall, thousands of salmon annually swim up the Klamath River, crowding into pools, where fish diseases can spread in the warmer water conditions. The past three years, the bureau has used water from the Trinity, which flows into the Klamath, to flush disease-causing pathogens out the river, ease fish crowding and lower the water temperature.The fisheries and environmental groups say the extra water is needed to prevent a fish die-off like the one that killed more than 35,000 fish in 2002.“Really, Mr. LaMalfa, by looking out for very well-off corporate farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, is doing a disservice to farmers in his own district,” said Felice Pace, a spokesman for the Klamath Forest Alliance.The past two years, the Westlands Water District and other San Joaquin Valley agriculture interests, unsuccessfully sued the bureau to stop the higher fall flows.If there is another fish die-off, the courts would likely order more water for Klamath salmon, hurting farmers who also rely on the water for irrigation, Pace said.“Whose interest does it serve to have a lot of dead fish?” Pace said.Glen Spain, Northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, said a fish kill would also hurt the West Coast commercial and recreational fishing industry.“Again, it’s going to affect the economy of the whole Northern California if we have another fish kill,” Spain said.But Kevin Eastman, a spokesman for LaMalfa, said the Trinity water being sent downstream is needed to offset the effects of the drought statewide and in the city of Redding.“On a basic level, it is irresponsible for the bureau to arbitrarily ignore the ROD (Record of Decision) and divert additional water to environmental purposes when Californians across the state are facing mandatory rationing,” Eastman said.Higher flows down the Trinity River mean less water is piped over the mountains from Lewiston Lake to the Carr Powerhouse at Whiskeytown Lake and the Spring Creek Powerhouse at Keswick Lake.When those two powerhouses generate less electricity, Redding Electric Utility has to purchase more expensive power from other sources, Eastman said.“On a basic level, it is irresponsible for the bureau to arbitrarily ignore the ROD (Record of Decision) and divert additional water to environmental purposes when Californians across the state are facing mandatory rationing,” Eastman said.“Requiring the Bureau to maintain Trinity flows under the Record of Decision keeps more water available to all Central Valley Project water recipients, including Redding and agriculture in the North State,” he said.REU pays about $6.5 million a year for electricity from the Western Area Power Administration, which distributes the power, said Barry Tippin, Redding’s assistant city manager. The city pays hundreds of thousands of dollars more for power if it has to get electricity from other sources when hydropower generation runs low, he said.
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