Westlands sues to halt higher Trinity flows Intended to prevent repeat of 2002 Lower Klamath Fish kill: Hoopa Valley Tribe intervenes!

LAWSUIT FILED TO HALT TRINITY FLOWS FOR LOWER KLAMATH RIVER

UPDATED: JUDGE O'NEILL ISSUES TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER HERE. The judge issued an order halting the flows until August 23.  A hearing will be held August 21 inj Fresno.  He has put the burden of proof on the federal government/defendants.  This is not a good sign for the fish runs.  

Lower Klamath Dead Salmon and Fishermen, 2002
Trinity Dam Outlet Works May 10, 2005
Photo Courtesy  CA  Dept. Fish and Wildlife

PACIFIC COAST FEDERATION OF FISHERMEN'S ASSOCIATIONS, INSTITUTE FOR FISHERIES RESEARCH AND EARTHJUSTICE FILE INTERVENTION HERE.

Westlands Water District and the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA) filed a lawsuit against proposed water releases from Lewiston and Trinity dams into the Trinity River intended to prevent another fish kill like 2002.  You can read the lawsuit here.

PLEASE CONTACT CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME DIRECTOR CHARLES BONHAM, ASKING HIM TO HAVE THE CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE INTERVENE ON BEHALF OF THE KLAMATH-TRINITY SALMON.  Below is what C-WIN's Tom Stokely wrote in response to an excellent editorial in the Redding Record Searchlight:

 

"A well-stated editorial.

Taking it one step further, if the State of California stands idly by and does not intervene in this court case, it confirms our belief in Northern California that the Trinity, the Sacramento, the Feather and American rivers and their salmon runs will all be destroyed by the Governor Brown's Twin Tunnels (Peripheral Tunnels) project.

Concerned citizens should contact California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charles Bonham and let him know he should ask the state Attorney General's office to intervene on behalf of the Klamath-Trinity salmon and do the right thing. Failure to do so confirms our belief that CDFW is going to stand idly by and let the Twin Tunnels destroy the last of California's salmon stocks.

CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham
1416 Ninth Street , 12th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 653-7667 • Director@wildlife.ca.gov"

 

You can read the Hoopa Valley Tribe's intervention here.

You can read the Plaintiffs' Notice of Related cases here.

Read a letter from Northern California Congressional representatives here.  

This is Deja Vu all over.  In 2002, Westlands, SLDMWA, Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, Northern California Power Authority and San Benito County Water Agency obtained a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting additional Trinity River releases.  Additional Trinity flows into the Lower Klamath River could have prevented or at least abated the fish kill in which 65,000 adult salmon died.  It looks like Westlands and SLDMA are trying for a repeat performance!

C-WIN supports the higher flows and opposes the lawsuit.  You can view C-WIN's comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment here.

Here is some of the media coverage:

Daily Kos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/08/1229904/-Westlands-files-lawsuit-against-Trinity-water-release#

Klamath Herald and News: http://www.heraldandnews.com/news/local_news/environment/article_776fe95c-00b1-11e3-b5f0-0019bb2963f4.html

Northwest Public Radio: http://www.nwpr.org/post/southern-oregon-farmers-suing-prevent-water-release

Environmental Protection Information Center: http://www.wildcalifornia.org/blog/klamath/

San Diego Union Tribune: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/aug/08/calif-farmers-sue-over-water-releases-for-salmon/ 

California Farm Water Coalition: http://www.cfwc.com/Current-News/

SF Chronicle Editorial: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Let-s-not-kill-fish-to-water-farms-4724587.php

http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Farmers-sue-on-Klamath-water-releases-for-salmon-4718932.php

 

Let's not kill fish to water farms

 


A decade ago, thousands of dead salmon lined the banks of the Klamath River, killed because federal dam operators steered needed water to farmers. It's a mistake that shouldn't be repeated.
 
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which controls the flows on the Trinity River, the Klamath's biggest tributary, is determined to learn from the fish die-off in 2002. Beginning next week, the floodgates at the Trinity Reservoir will gradually open, creating higher flows over the next month to accommodate a record salmon run headed upriver.
It's a sensible and justifiable course - more water for more fish - but it's riled Central Valley farmers, whose irrigation districts more than 300 miles south want a court order stopping the water releases which would otherwise be pumped their way.
A judge will hold a hearing next week on the bid for a last-minute court order to stop the water flows and quite possibly doom the salmon run. In this case, fish should win over farms.
There's no question that a drought year is hitting agriculture hard. The protesting irrigation districts in the Fresno area are receiving only 20 percent of normal-year water allotments, meaning acres of unplanted crops. Also, the decision to boost flows came quickly, announced on Wednesday.
But the Trinity water in question totals up to 100,000 acre-feet from a reservoir that currently holds 1.5 million acre-feet, a small amount to release in the name of safeguarding historic fish runs.
Because it's a federal agency running the dam, the dispute has drawn in Northern California's congressional delegation, which is deeply divided. Four House members - John Garamendi and Jim Costa, who are Democrats, and Jeff Denham and Doug LaMalfa, both Republicans - oppose the releases on behalf of their farm-heavy districts. But Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson and George Miller, all Democrats, favor the federal decision. Each group has written to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who oversees the dam-operating agency, to argue their side.
California's water wars are constant and intractable. But in this instance, the right choice is clear: release the water needed for the salmon to survive.

Editorial: If irrigators win, and salmon die, it will cost dearly

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Dry conditions are bad for farmers, but the publicity disaster might be even worse.

San Joaquin Valley irrigators feel so squeezed by severe federal water cutbacks that they’re asking the federal courts to stop releases of extra water from Trinity Lake that aim to keep the lower Klamath River cool, flush out a fish-killing microbe, and ensure decent conditions for a bumper crop of chinook salmon.

The extra releases, which the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced last week, begin today, but Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority are seeking an injunction. The lawyers argue that the likely impacts of releasing the water downstream instead of hoarding it in the reservoir are much larger than Reclamation acknowledges and need deeper study, and that the whole process doesn’t follow the Endangered Species Act.

The bottom line is simple, though: The farmers think they need the water more than the fish do. From their perspective, it’s understandable. It’s precisely in times of scarcity that users fight most urgently for every drop of water.

But in the long run, the worst thing that could happen to these big Central Valley Project contractors is for them to win.

Suppose they convince a judge of legal flaws in Reclamation’s decision. Suppose the judge orders an emergency halt to the water surge. Suppose more than 100,000 king salmon wash up dead on the shores of the Klamath — of a disease the dam operators had a plan to prevent, a plan stopped by Big Corporate Ag’s lawyers.

How’ll that look in the East Coast papers? How’ll that help farmers’ plea for relief from a “Congress Created Dust Bowl”? How’ll that win the trust of Northern Californians fearful that the “twin tunnels” through the Delta will suck rivers dry with no regard for the consequences?

We’re talking hypotheticals, of course. Maybe everything would work out just fine.

But the fact is Reclamation over the past decade has periodically released these extra slugs of Trinity water downstream in comparable conditions, and in each year they’ve worked — avoiding a fish kill like the nationally notorious disaster of 2002. And if “area of origin” rights mean anything, it’s that the Trinity’s water should be used first for the Trinity’s needs — not those 300 miles south.

Reclamation’s doing the right thing in leaving enough water in the river for fish to thrive, despite the real costs. The Westlands lawsuit just confirms that down-state irrigators’ thirst, in a pinch, will be slaked at the North State’s expense. And if the suit succeeds and the fish suffer as the worst-case scenarios predict, a few thousand extra acre-feet of Trinity Water won’t be nearly enough to wash the stink of dead fish off the irrigators’ reputation.

 

Farmers sue on Klamath water releases for salmon

8:24 AM

A simmering feud over water rights boiled over Thursday when Central Valley agricultural interests sued the federal government in an attempt to stop releases into the Klamath River to protect spawning salmon.

At issue is a decision Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to release cold Trinity River water into the lower Klamath between Aug. 15 and Sept. 21 to prevent what biologists fear could be a giant fish die-off if river flows are not increased.

The lawsuit, filed by the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and the Westlands Water District, both of which represent farmers who receive water from the federal Central Valley Project, claims the Bureau of Reclamation does not have the legal authority to release water that should rightfully be used to irrigate thousands of acres of farmland.

Farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Rivers Delta have been allocated only 20 percent of the water they contracted for this year, claimed the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

"Orchards and vineyards are suffering severe stress, and row crops have been abandoned and other fields have been left fallow," the lawsuit says. "Given this calamity, it is unthinkable that the defendants would unlawfully release water from (Central Valley Project) storage to the ocean instead of delivering that supply to water users who desperately need it."

The fish-versus-farms dilemma has been heating up for two years as a lack of rain and snow has slowly reduced the amount of water available for spawning fish and for irrigation in the Central Valley. A percentage of the water from Trinity River, the main tributary of the Klamath, is piped over from Trinity Dam every year and released into the Sacramento River, where it is used for both agriculture and fish restoration.

The problem this year is that a huge number of chinook salmon, an estimated 272,000, are expected to swim up the Klamath this fall, but there does not appear to be enough water in the river for them to spawn. The conditions are similar to 2002, when as many as 65,000 salmon died from disease because of a lack of cold water, according to fisheries experts.

Environmentalists and fisheries experts have blamed the deaths on agricultural interests for blocking proposed water releases that year. The National Marine Fisheries Service predicts there will be 100,000 more spawning fish this year than there were in 2002.

"It's deja vu all over again," said Tom Stokely, the water policy analyst for the environmental advocacy group California Water Impact Network. "Back in 2002, these same water agencies blocked downstream releases of Trinity River water, which could have prevented the deaths of tens of thousands of adult salmon. Now they want to do it again."

The issue is a big deal for the Upper Klamath, Karuk, Yurok and Hoopa tribes, which hold traditional fishing rights along the Klamath and Trinity rivers and hold some sway when decisions are made about water usage.

"That's our livelihood; that's our life," said Terrance "Chitcus" Brown, a traditional fisherman and member of the Karuk tribe. "A die-off is a major concern."

Brown, Stokely and others have said the huge run of chinook can do wonders for the future of the beleaguered California fishing industry and for the ecosystem if the fish survive long enough to create the next generation. The key is water, and who has the right to use it.

http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_23827756/calif-farmers-sue-over-water-klamath-salmon-hoopa

 

Calif. farmers sue over water for Klamath salmon; Hoopa Tribe: Releases may not be enough

Gosia Wozniacka/The Associated Press
POSTED:   08/09/2013 02:36:19 AM PDT | UPDATED:   ABOUT 6 HOURS AGO

 
Click photo to enlarge
 
 
 

FRESNO -- Farmers in California's San Joaquin Valley are suing the federal government over the planned release of water from a Northern California reservoir to prevent a salmon kill in the lower Klamath River.

The suit alleges the release from the Trinity Reservoir would be unlawful and would further decrease the little water available to farmers for irrigation. It was filed Wednesday by the Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The Trinity River is the main tributary of the Klamath. A large portion of Trinity water usually is sent south into the Sacramento River and is piped to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley through the Central Valley Project.

Farmers in the Westlands Water District, the nation's largest federal irrigation district, and others on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley say they desperately need the Trinity water to help deal with severe water shortages next year. The farmers have received just 20 percent of their water deliveries this year, leading them to fallow thousands of acres of land and rely on groundwater.

And next year, unless a very wet winter restores nearly empty reservoirs, the farmers predict they might get little or no water -- and the lack of Trinity River water would further reduce their deliveries.

Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Pete Lucero said the agency could not comment on the pending lawsuit.

But federal authorities said they planned to release the Trinity water to the Klamath River to prevent a repeat of a 2002 fish kill that left tens of thousands of salmon dead before they could spawn -- the fish died from gill rotting diseases because there was not enough water for them to swim upstream.

The Bush administration that year restored irrigation to farms in Oregon and California, one year after those farms were denied water during a drought to help threatened salmon and other fish survive in the Klamath basin.

Following that fish kill and prompted by predictions of large salmon runs and drier than normal conditions, the Bureau of Reclamation in 2003, 2004 and 2012 released water from the Trinity for salmon in the lower Klamath.

Tom Stokely, a water policy analyst for the California Water Impact Network, said the current situation is eerily reminiscent of 2002.

”It's deja vu all over again,” Stokely said in a statement. “Back in 2002, these same water agencies blocked downstream releases of Trinity River water, which could have prevented the deaths of tens of thousands of adult salmon. Now they want to do it again.”

Stokely also conceded that more water has been promised to stakeholders than is available.

”The bottom line is that the Bureau of Reclamation has promised to deliver much more water than is available in the system,” he said. “These conflicts will only worsen until water contracts and water rights conform with hydrologic reality.”

This year, authorities say the Klamath River is expecting a very large fall run of Chinook salmon, yet the river is extremely low.

The bureau has said it plans to release up to 62,000 acre feet of Trinity water, plus an additional 39,000 acre feet of emergency water if fish show signs of disease, to the Klamath from Aug. 13 until the end of September.

Environmental groups and Indian tribes applauded the releases, but some said they might not provide enough water to save the salmon.

”We need more water, and we need it sooner,” said Hoopa Fisheries Director Michael Orcutt.

 

Times-Standard staff writer Thadeus Greenson contributed to this report.

Peter Fimrite is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:pfimrite@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @pfimrite

http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_23827756/calif-farmers-sue-ov...

http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/08/08/3430574/west-valley-farmers-sue-feds-over.html

 

Growers hope courts will stop planned release of Trinity River water

West San Joaquin Valley farmers filed suit Wednesday against the federal government, hoping to stop a planned release of Trinity River water to protect salmon in Northern California.

The lawsuit said the release of up to 100,000 acre-feet of water to the Pacific Ocean is unlawful and unthinkable as west Valley farmers face "a growing water-shortage catastrophe."

But water activists and environmentalists say a wildlife disaster would happen without the water release planned to begin Aug. 13. They said they would fight the lawsuit, which was brought by the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and Westlands Water District.

"If they are successful, a major fish kill is likely," said Tom Stokely, water policy analyst with the advocacy group California Water Impact Network.

The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Fresno. Westlands leaders say they will seek a temporary restraining order today against the water release. They will ask for a hearing next week.

Officials at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said they do not comment on pending litigation.

Farm water leaders say growers already are suffering with a 20% allocation from the federal Central Valley Project.

The limited deliveries are the result of drought and water cutbacks to protect dwindling fish species and water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The cutbacks have forced widespread land fallowing in western Merced and Fresno counties.

"The water shortage is causing physical, social and economic damage on a landscape scale," the lawsuit says.

Tom Birmingham, general manager of the 600,000-acre Westlands district, said the federal government cut farm-water allocations down to 20% in spring because there was not enough water to fulfill all its obligations.

"If there is water available now," Birmingham said, "the Bureau of Reclamation should make it available to water service contractors both north and south of the delta."

Next year may be even worse, the lawsuit says. If the season is dry, west-siders might get a zero allocation.

But the Trinity River water release is intended to avoid a massive fish kill like one that took the lives of tens of thousands of fall-run chinook salmon in 2002 during a similar dry year.

Drought sometimes results in high temperatures, low flows and bacteria growth that could kill salmon and other fish.

The water release from the Trinity would flow down to the Klamath River. The salmon run in the Klamath is expected to be very large this year.

 

 

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/08/08/3431670/west-valley-farmers-sue-feds-over.html#storylink=cpyhttp://www.redding.com/news/2013/aug/08/farmers-sue-over-water-releases-salmon/ 

Farmers sue over water releases for salmon

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Farmers in California's San Joaquin Valley are suing the federal government over the planned release of water from a Northern California reservoir to prevent a salmon kill in the lower Klamath River.

The suit alleges the release from the Trinity Reservoir would be unlawful and would further decrease the little water available to farmers for irrigation. It was filed Wednesday by the Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The Trinity River is the main tributary of the Klamath. A large portion of Trinity water usually is sent south into the Sacramento River and is piped to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley through the Central Valley Project.

Farmers in the Westlands Water District, the nation's largest federal irrigation district, and others on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley say they desperately need the Trinity water to help deal with severe water shortages next year. The farmers have received just 20 percent of their water deliveries this year, leading them to fallow thousands of acres of land and rely on groundwater.

And next year, unless a very wet winter restores nearly empty reservoirs, the farmers predict they might get little or no water — and the lack of Trinity River water would further reduce their deliveries.

Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Pete Lucero said the agency could not comment on the pending lawsuit.

But federal authorities said they planned to release the Trinity water to the Klamath River to prevent a repeat of a 2002 fish kill that left tens of thousands of salmon dead before they could spawn — the fish died from gill rotting diseases because there was not enough water for them to swim upstream.

The Bush administration that year restored irrigation to farms in Oregon and California, one year after those farms were denied water during a drought to help threatened salmon and other fish survive in the Klamath basin.

Following that fish kill and prompted by predictions of large salmon runs and drier than normal conditions, the Bureau of Reclamation in 2003, 2004 and 2012 released water from the Trinity for salmon in the lower Klamath.

This year, authorities say the Klamath River is expecting a very large fall run of Chinook salmon, yet the river is extremely low.

The bureau has said it plans to release up to 62,000 acre feet of Trinity water, plus an additional 39,000 acre feet of emergency water if fish show signs of disease, to the Klamath from Aug. 13 until the end of September.

Environmental groups and Indian tribes applauded the releases, but some said they might not provide enough water to save the salmon.

"We need more water, and we need it sooner," said Hoopa Fisheries Director Michael Orcutt.

http://www.heraldandnews.com/news/local_news/article_ecbf479e-ffed-11e2-a43d-0019bb2963f4.html 

 

Trinity water release planned

By DEVAN SCHWARTZ H&N Staff Reporter | Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 11:45 pm

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.

The Bureau of Reclamation confirmed Wednesday it will release water from Trinity River reservoirs to supplement flows in the Klamath River. The proposed releases would be between 62,000 and 109,000 acre-feet of water. An acre-foot is the amount of water required to cover an acre of land a foot deep.

Reclamation’s plan has sparked support, but also threats of legal action and created a division in California’s congressional delegation.

In July, Reclamation proposed to release supplemental flows from the Trinity River, the largest Klamath tributary, at the height of the fish run — generally from Aug. 15 to Sept. 21.

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations argue that dry conditions and a strong predicted chinook run in the Klamath River is similar to the summer of 2002 — the worst adult fish kill in U.S. history.

As a result, salmon numbers weren’t met four years later in 2006, leading to fishery closures and losses of more than $200 million to the fish economy between Monterey, Calif., and the Oregon-Washington border, according to Glen Spain, northwest regional director for the associations.

Fishers are being supported by tribes, conservationists and a variety of agencies concerned about another massive fish kill. The Hoopa Valley Tribe has even called for more water and sooner deliveries, dependent on conditions.

But the second straight year of such releases draws strong rebuttals from Central Valley Project interests, including irrigation districts and power utilities. They argue that reservoirs have never refilled from last year’s Trinity releases, and further environmental review should be required.

“We are not supportive of the release until they’ve done a full environmental impact statement,” said Elizabeth Hadley, of Redding Electric Utility, which has 43,000 customers in the City of Redding.

Comments on the proposed water releases are mixed, and include a change.org petition with 6,000 signatures in favor of the release; opposing letters from California congressmen; and threats of legal actions against Reclamation’s proposed actions.

Supporters make case for Trinity River releases

Tom Stokely, a water policy analyst for the California Water Impact Network, said the water releases from the Trinity River are necessary to avoid repeating the 2002 fish kill.

In a drought year with limited water, Stokely said it comes down to taking water from either farmers on the Klamath side or the Central Valley side.

“An exceptionally large run of fish is expected to return to the river, about 272,000 fish,” said Stokely, who predicts very little environmental impact or lost hydropower to the Central Valley Project.

Regina Chichizola, communications coordinator for the Hoopa Valley Tribe, said the focus this year has been on water shutoffs in the upper Klamath Basin and, so far, making sure there’s enough water for the fish hasn’t been a priority.

Three congressional Democrats from California sent a letter in support of the Trinity releases.

“A massive fish kill would be devastating for the salmon, and for businesses that the recreational and commercial fishery supports,” said Reps. Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson and George Miller in their joint letter. “It would also be disastrous for the tribes who call the region home. Finally, it could severely undermine the prospects of long-term solutions in the Klamath Basin.”

Their support is countered by two Democrats and two Republicans from California, who say the case for releasing the water into the Klamath River hasn’t been completely fleshed out.

“We have significant concerns regarding the equity of the public policy decisions being proposed,” wrote Democrats Jim Costa and John Garamendi along with Republicans Doug LaMalfa and Jeff Denham in their own letter.

“All Californians have an interest in ensuring healthy fisheries and we are pleased to see that 2013 is projected to produce another bountiful return of Chinook salmon. However, in making policy determinations it is vital that the benefits of an action are weighed against the harms in a broader context so that the best possible outcome for all Californians is produced.”

Opponents say full

environmental review a must

Dan Nelson, executive director of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, says a more robust federal review is required before the release of Trinity River water.

Nelson’s group, along with Westlands Water District, the largest in the Central Valley, argue that the draft environmental analysis put forth by Reclamation “fails to answer substantial questions about whether the supplemental releases may have significant effects on the human environment.”

The groups say the proposed releases cannot be implemented in August and September, and a full environmental impact statement — a much lengthier process — is required.

In their comments, Redding Electric Utility said it doesn’t understand how Reclamation concluded the Trinity releases would have no significant impacts. “Reclamation has reached its conclusion that the proposed project will have no significant impact without adequate supporting documentation, and we question the speculative nature of the assumptions Reclamation has used.”

Elizabeth Hadley of Redding Electric Utility said the Central Valley Project could lose between $3.5 million and $6 million in decreased hydropower, without mitigation measures in Reclamation’s plans.

Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations says concerns about the environmental assessment process are without standing.

“Those lawsuits will be resolved very quickly,” Spain said. “There’s a high bar to get an injunction in federal court and prove that you are likely to win.”

Tom Stokely, a water policy analyst for the California Water Impact Network, said there’s no legitimacy in the arguments calling for a complete EIS, and therefore stalling the releases.

“What federal judge is going deny this flow release and potentially have the blood of tens of thousands of dead salmon on their hands?” Stokely asked.

Nevertheless, Stokely admits the influence of Central Valley irrigation districts. “The clout is incredible. Westlands Water District is the biggest and the baddest on the block. From a political perspective, they have tremendous influence. They have good lawyers but we’ll see what happens in court.”

The situation could play out this way: Central Valley Project interests file injunctions against Reclamation’s proposed release of water and then fishers groups along with tribes such as Hoopa Valley or Yurok could intervene in order to maintain the releases while the judge makes a legal determination.

“Hoopa is considering intervening. We don’t believe they have a solid legal argument,” said Chichizola of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. “All the laws put fish and wildlife before the diversions.”

Water is scheduled to be released from the Trinity and Lewiston dams starting Aug. 13 and Stokely said he expects a flurry of legal activity over the next week.

http://www.redding.com/news/2013/aug/08/farmers-sue-over-water-releases-...
Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/08/08/3430574/west-valley-farmers-sue-feds-over.html#storylink=cpy

 

http://www.redding.com/news/2013/aug/07/trinity-water-flow-decision-raises-ire-of-valley/

Trinity water flow decision raises ire of electric utilities, Central Valley farmers

 

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has agreed to increase the flow of the Trinity River to prevent fall-run Chinook salmon in the Klamath River from becoming sick and dying from warm water, overcrowding in the river and pathogens in the water. The Trinity River flows into the Klamath.

PHOTO BY GREG BARNETTE, PHOTOS BY GREG BARNETTE/RECORD SEARCHLIGHT // BUY THIS PHOTO

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has agreed to increase the flow of the Trinity River to prevent fall-run Chinook salmon in the Klamath River from becoming sick and dying from warm water, overcrowding in the river and pathogens in the water. The Trinity River flows into the Klamath.

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.

Starting Tuesday, water releases from Lewiston Dam will ramp up from 450 feet per second to about 1,100 CFS, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam. The higher flows will continue until the last week in September.

The aim of the higher releases is to reduce the chance of repeating a die-off of fall-run Chinook salmon in the lower Klamath River, similar to what happened in 2002 when an estimated 30,550 fish were killed in the river.

More water in the Trinity River, which flows into the Klamath, will slightly lower the temperature of the water in the river, said Wade Sinnen, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in Arcata. More important, he said, is more water in the river will flush out pathogens in the river and reduce fish crowding by giving the fish more room to swim.

This year’s run of fall-run of Chinook is the second-largest since 1978, he said. Last year’s salmon run was the largest, when officials predicted 380,000 fish would return to the river to spawn. Conditions in the river are even more crowded than during 2002’s fish die-off, Sinnen said.

About 272,400 Chinook are expected to return to the Klamath this year, compared to the 170,000 that were in the river in 2002, Sinnen said.

“This is being done to alleviate low water and warm conditions on the lower Klamath,” Sinnen said.

But Tom Stokely, a water policy analyst for the California Water Impact Network, said increasing Trinity flows is making waves statewide.

San Joaquin Valley water agencies such as the Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority already have sent the bureau notices saying they intend to sue to stop the higher flows.

“It’s very controversial, and the reason is that every drop of water is coveted by so many people,” Stokely said.

Barry Tippin, Redding Electric Utility director, said the city supports more water for the salmon, but the bureau should have done a more in-depth analysis on the effects of sending more water down the river.

Increasing flows from Lewiston Dam means less water will be piped over the mountain to the Carr Powerhouse at Whiskeytown Lake, he said. Water shipped to Whiskeytown eventually flows into the Sacramento River and some of that is set aside for irrigators in the Central Valley.

Less power generation could mean as much as $6 million in losses to all Central Valley Project power users, Tippin wrote in a letter to the bureau last month.

The electric utility wants the bureau to compensate Redding for lost power generation, Tippin said.

Pete Lucero, a spokesman for the bureau, said officials are looking into whether it has the legal authority to compensate power agencies.

“We are having discussions with the power community on this,” Lucero said. He said the bureau also will need to do further studies to quantify the impact on power generation.

While power agencies and farmers are concerned over the loss of CVP water, one Klamath Indian tribe says the bureau is not doing enough to help the salmon.

“We need more water and we need it sooner,” said Michael Orcutt, fisheries director for the Hoopa Valley Tribe.