Thursday, August 8, 2013

News articles and links from August 8, 2013

Trinity River 

From: Peter Fimrite, SF Chronicle

Big, healthy chinook salmon are all but leaping into fishing boats this summer off the California coast, but the wriggling hordes could be in for trouble when they start heading up the rivers on their annual egg-laying runs.

From: Damon Arthur, Redding Record Searchlight

In a decision that prompted threats of lawsuits from Central Valley farmers and requests for reimbursement from power utilities, federal officials agreed today to increase the flow of water in the Trinity River to prevent fish downstream from becoming sick or dying.

From: Catherine Wong, Eureka Times-Standard

Hoopa Valley Tribe officials are calling the federal government's plan to release water from the Trinity Reservoir into the Lower Klamath River to protect what is expected to be a large return of salmon "too little, too late."

From: Press Release, Eureka Times-Standard

The Bureau of Reclamation will release additional water from Trinity Reservoir to supplement flows in the Lower Klamath River in 2013 to help protect an expected large returning run of adult Chinook salmon from a disease outbreak and mortality. The target date for augmented flows in the Lower Klamath River is August 15. Because of the two day travel time between Lewiston Dam and the Lower Klamath, the releases from Lewiston Dam will begin in the early morning hours of August 13 and end in the last week of September.

From: Devan Schwartz, Herald and News

Days before Klamath River salmon runs are expected in California, controversy surrounds federal actions meant to prevent a massive fish kill, similar to one that took place in 2002.

From: Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee
From: Matt Weiser, Modesto Bee
From: Matt Weiser, Fresno Bee

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will release extra water from Lewiston Dam on the Trinity River next week in hopes of preventing a large fish kill downstream on the Klamath River.

(The following comment is posted to the above articles.)
Coalition response...Farmers along the San Joaquin Valley westside are again seeing a portion of their water being taken away as Reclamation plans to send water down the Trinity River for fall-run Chinook salmon in the Klamath River, which is not an endangered species. Reclamation reports the extra water is expected to protect an anticipated high number of returning salmon from a disease that is already established in the Klamath. A salmon die-off occurred once back in 2002, which is what Reclamation is hoping to avoid with extra water releases this year. However, there were no supplemental releases from 2005 through 2011 and no die-off of salmon either. So, where's the reasoning for this month's planned action?

Taking an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 acre feet of water out of the system could further harm Valley farmers who already experienced an 80 percent cut in their water supply this year from the Central Valley Project.

Reclamation has claimed its authority to take this action comes from obligations imposed by the Trinity River Division Central Valley Project Act of 1955. However, the 2000 Trinity River Restoration Record of Decision provides the water to meet those obligations and, given proper planning, would have been sufficient to meet the needs of this action without creating further undue impacts upon Central Valley Project water and power customers, including wildlife refuges.  

In July 2012, then-Regional Director Donald Glaser of Reclamation said in a letter that a supplemental release in August 2012 would not harm CVP water users this year. He stated that Reclamation would identify any effects that might result from last year's action. He also promised a long-term strategy for addressing fish flows. Water users are still waiting for that plan in hopes that it will avoid such situations that we are facing today.

We've seen this before: water taken from farmers for environmental purposes with no proven benefits.


From: Todd Fichette, Western Farm Press

Recent media coverage of a twin tunnel plan in California suggests that desalination technology is nearing a cost-effective state.

One story points to water-starved farming operations in California's San Joaquin Valley as the major benefactor of a plan to pump sea water under the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta to desalination facilities. A separate newspaper article suggests the process could be up and running by 2038.

Coalition response...One important clarification needs to be made to Todd's blog---the water that will be transported through the proposed tunnels is not sea water. Water diverted into the tunnels will take place in the north Delta off of the Sacramento River before it reaches the ocean. Farmers have been looking at new technology for decades and I expect they will continue to do so.

Water Supply

From: Mike Wade, Bakersfield Californian

Regarding the Aug. 7 letter "Raise water prices so we'll learn to conserve": Many agricultural water suppliers already employ tiered pricing, which increases the cost of water for amounts used above a base amount at a base price. Kern County farmers do not receive any subsidies for water they receive from the State Water Project that is used to irrigate over a half-million acres of productive farmland.

From: Tib Belza, Northern California Water Association

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson recently provided a fresh and compelling viewpoint in the Sacramento Bee that the "State needs more water, not just improved sharing." The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) and our partners in the North State Water Alliance are committed to statewide water solutions that advance the economy, environment, and quality of life in Northern California. We have been a strong proponent that California needs a more comprehensive water plan than just a narrow Delta solution. We share the Mayor's belief "that Governor Brown can come up with an innovative solution when it comes to water policy," which should include his administration immediately developing a more "comprehensive statewide water plan."

Water Storage

From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Beehive

A federal leader last week mentioned a study to raise San Luis Dam and expand the nearly empty San Luis Reservoir in western Merced County, raising eyebrows all around. Why study expansion of a reservoir holding 16% of its capacity? And why now?

From: Dawn M. Henley, Oakdale Leader

The ability to store water for regional reliability and sustainability as well as the State Water Resources Control Board's (SWRCB) plan for San Joaquin River basin flows were the primary topics of discussion at the Oakdale Irrigation District Board of Directors' Aug. 6 regular meeting.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Rogene Reynolds, Sacramento Bee

Re "Farming is a way of life" (Letters, Aug. 7): The truth about the repayment status of the Central Valley Project is that the repayment structure has not been calibrated to pay for the project. See the report issued in March 2013 by Office of the Inspector General for the U. S. Department of the Interior: "Central Valley Project California: Repayment Status and Payoff."


From: Steve Knell, Modesto Bee

The July 28 letter "Too little water for fish" unfortunately perpetuates the myth that because salmon and stripers have co-existed since stripers were introduced to California in the 1890s, there is no need for a predator removal program on the Stanislaus or elsewhere.

This myth was debunked by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which stated in its 2009 Biological Opinion regarding the continued long-term operation of the CVP and SWP, "Predators and their prey typically establish a dynamic equilibrium in abundance. As long as the ecosystem is healthy and the prey populations are robust, predation mortality becomes one of the factors affecting population dynamics of the prey species. But, when multiple stressors reduce the health, fitness, survival and abundance of the prey, and damage the ecosystem, the prey populations decline."

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