[env-trinity] Board tables comment on Sites Project
tstokely at att.net
Wed Dec 25 09:57:57 PST 2019
Board tables comment on Sites Project
- By Sally Morris The Trinity Journal
- 3 hrs ago
Not feeling they had sufficient time to digest a pile of information provided at the last minute before a Jan. 7 comment deadline expires, Trinity County supervisors last week declined to weigh in with a proposed letter requesting withdrawal and reissuance of the Sites Reservoir Project Draft EIR/EIS. They tabled the matter instead to an unspecified date.
The draft comment letter proposed by the Trinity County Fish & Game Advisory Commission was placed on the Board of Supervisors’ Dec. 17 agenda that morning as a subsequent item requiring immediate action that came to the board’s attention after the agenda was posted.
The board’s representative on the Fish & Game Advisory Commission, Sup. John Fenley presented the commission’s proposed letter seeking withdrawal and reanalysis of the Draft EIR/EIS. It was similar to a letter approved a few days prior by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors asking the Sites Project Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation to withdraw and reissue the document.
Fenley said the Draft EIR/EIS indicates there will be no impacts in Trinity County from the Sites Reservoir Project in the Sacramento Valley, described as a means of catching and storing excess water from major storms. However, it would include pumping from the Sacramento River to fill the new reservoir, and about half of the Trinity River’s water is diverted to the Sacramento River each year for Central Valley Project uses.
Fenley said the discussion among Fish & Game Commission members about potential impacts from the Sites project on the Trinity River, Trinity and Lewiston reservoirs came up late in the evening, sparking contentious debate.
A 2019 report by Kamman Engineering and Hydrology was provided, indicating the Sites Project poses the potential for a number of serious impacts in Trinity County depending on how it is operated, and those impacts were not identified in the Draft EIR/EIS. The report detailed potential impacts on water temperatures downstream from Lewiston during late summer and decreased levels in Trinity Lake from insufficient carryover during multi-year droughts, also raising downstream water temperatures, endangering salmon and other aquatic organisms.
Sup. Keith Groves, long-engaged as the board’s representative on Trinity River Restoration Project issues, raised many additional questions and said the Sites Project has the potential to either be a benefit or a negative for Trinity County depending on the details.
“These are extremely complex issues with a lot of moving parts. A lot of work has been done, and we shouldn’t just shoot blindly without a policy on what we’d want,” he said.
“But this is just requesting to push the pause button and do more research for data on fishing and recreation,” said Sup. Judy Morris.
“Oh, just throw out a five-year process? No big deal? If we’re going to get into this at this detailed level, then we should hire someone with the expertise to really get into it,” Groves responded.
Sup. Jeremy Brown noted the comment letter to the Sites Project Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation “is time-sensitive, and we don’t want to get excluded from the opportunity to comment. It keeps the door open.”
“But say we get what we ask for and they withdraw the EIR. Then what? We have no infrastructure to be involved in that process. Who’s going to be the water person to make comments? If we’re going to get in it, then let’s make a commitment to get in it,” Groves said.
“This keeps our foot in the door and then we scramble to find the money,” Brown said.
>From the audience, Liam Gogan of Douglas City said the Sites Project could have very negative impacts on the Trinity River fishery “if the water comes out of the Trinity River. The EIR says it may or it may not.”
Kay Graves of Lewiston argued “this is an information dump at the last minute and it is irresponsible. Even if you have feelings or qualms about it, you just don’t know, and once again, we have no real say over our water. Everyone is selling our water but us. Even Humboldt County has a stake. The Restoration Program is just a great big mess and a document information dump at the last minute is suspicious in itself.”
“This is one of the most important issues before the board and dealing with it as a subsequent item is wrong. It clearly warrants a special meeting before that date of Jan. 7. It is a big question being glossed over,” said Dero Forslund of Weaverville.
A Jan. 2 meeting was suggested, but Groves argued “even that is moving too fast. The more prudent action is to bring it back and look longer term at how much resource we’re going to throw at this.”
He called the proposed comment letter from Trinity County “an insignificant part of all this. Our vote won’t matter in whether they pull back the EIR. The bigger question is our water policy. What are we doing and how are we doing it? Or do we just sign on with Hoopa and do whatever they do? Where do we want to put our resources?”
Fenley suggested sending an abbreviated comment letter from the board, merely citing the board’s concern about undisclosed potential impacts from the project on Trinity County.
“Clearly, we won’t make a decision on it today. It is a big item. We really need time to get into the weeds on some of it,” said Sup. Morris, directing County Counsel Margaret Long to also have a look and assess the comments made.
A motion by Fenley to table the matter to a non-specified date carried unanimously.
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