[env-trinity] My Word: Trinity River Under Threat, Will Our County Fight Back?

Regina Chichizola klamathtrinityriver at gmail.com
Mon Nov 25 10:51:38 PST 2019

My Word: Trinity River Under Threat, Will Our County Fight Back?
Regina Chichizola
Save California Salmon


When it comes to federal water policy, there is no question we have a fox
in charge of the hen house.

David Bernhardt, our current Secretary of Interior, has been bought and
paid for by his former client, the Westlands Water District. Trump and
Bernhardt have promised Central Valley farmers that water will no longer be
wasted by flowing into the ocean. This promise is playing out in the new
Trump Water Plan, the proposed permanent water contract for Westlands, and
a proposal for a new reservoir in the North State, Sites Reservoir, that
will impact the Trinity River.

There are a lot of stories circulating in the media about the unethical
actions of Bernhardt and Governor Newsom’s reluctance to fight Trump on
water. The stories are about Bernhardt’s effort to get rid of the
scientists that concluded the new Trump Water Plan will lead to jeopardy of
endangered species in the Delta.  Then there is his work to give Westlands
a permanent water contract to irrigate poisoned selenium ridden lands and
to sell it to cities at a huge profit, and to acquire federal facilities.

What is not being covered is the impact these projects will have on the
Trinity and Klamath Rivers, and the governor’s reluctance to stop them.

The Trump Water Plan Draft EIS discloses that there will be impacts to the
Trinity River, which is diverted in the Sacramento River to feed
California’s federal water project. Despite this the Biological Opinion on
the Trump administration's new operations for the projects does not address
or mitigate Trinity River impacts from the new operations. A leaked
original Biological Opinion actually asked for more water to be released to
Clear Creek, the watershed the Trinity is diverted into, as a mitigation
for the proposed low flows in the Sacramento River.

The Trinity River, which is the Klamath’s largest tributary, was
specifically dammed to supply water to Westlands and the average annual
diversion of the Trinity River to the Delta is roughly the same as
Westlands’ average Central Valley Project  water deliveries. Despite a
historic 2000 flow restoration decision for the Trinity, there is no
enforceable minimum cold water pool requirement for Trinity Lake, even
though there is one for Shasta Lake. Eventually, Trinity Lake will be dry
during extended drought.

A new proposal will further impact the Trinity River - the Sites Reservoir,
but Humboldt County wrote a letter supporting it.  Luckily they will
revisit this resolution on December 10th.

OnJanuary 2018, even though the Sites Reservoir would have no local
benefits and will impact local fishing, the Humboldt Board of Supervisors,
led by Rex Bohn, sided with the Sites Project Authority Manager over local
people and fishermen after the Sites Authority promised to provide
assurances the massive new reservoir would not impact the Trinity River.
Local Tribes and fishermen did not know this meeting was happening until
the letter was approved.

Two years later, no such assurances have been provided, and a subsequent
hydrological report found that the DEIS/EIR modeling shows negative impacts
to Trinity River temperatures, and that there was no accounting for
Humboldt County’s 50,000 AF contract or the Lower Klamath Record of
Decision that provides cold Trinity River water during droughts to avoid
Klamath River fish kills.

Fishing in the Klamath and ocean is also worst than ever.

The Sites Project Authority has said that the temperature impacts were a
modeling error and that no Trinity River water would be used to fill Sites,
but has provided no guarantees of that, and has refused requests to
recirculate the Draft EIS/EIR.

Even without these new threats, the Sites Reservoir, Trump water plan and
Westlands contract threatens the Trinity River because the Trinity is
regularly diverted into the Sacramento River for power, water supply and
for other purposes. The Sites project could increase these diversions and
further deplete Trinity Lake. The Sites Reservoir Draft EIS/EIR also
provides for very low storage in Trinity Lake. This means that in drought
years when Trinity River water is needed to advert Klamath River fish kill,
the water might not be there or it will be too warm to help.

This is why the Humboldt County Supervisors will vote on sending two
letters to the Sites authority withdrawing their support for Sites if the
Trinity River’s water is not protected  and requesting a recirculated
DEIS/EIR at their December 10th board meeting.

The letters should include language proposed by fishing interests for a
water right term and condition that would ensure Humboldt County’s water
and fishing interests in the Klamath and Trinity rivers are protected if
Sites Reservoir is approved.

Please  join us on December 10 to ask the board to choose Humboldt County
residents over Central Valley irrigators. Ask them to fight for the Trinity
River and North Coast salmon.
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