AB 1914 passes Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee (Trinity River Water Rights Conformance Act)

C-WIN led efforts to get AB 1914, the Trinity River Water Rights Conformance Act, passed through the Assembly Water Parks and Wildlife Committee on April 29, 2014.  AB 1914 was authored by North Coast Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro.  C-WIN's Trinity River advocate Tom Stokely testified along with Trinity County District 5 Supervisor John Fenley in support of the bill.  Zeke Grader from the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations was also present to support the bill.  Opposition testimony included Dick Morris of Trinity Public Utilities District, Ryan Jackson, Vice Chairman of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, and a representative from Westlands Water District and San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority.  A host of Central Valley Project water and power contractors also spoke out against the bill. AB 1914, requires the State Water Resources Control Board to conform the Bureau of Reclamation's water permits to the Trinity River Record of Decision flows, Basin Plan temperature objectives, and to establish mimimum coldwater carryover storage to meet the temperature objectives.

This page will be updated with support and opposition letters and other information as it is made available.

The full C-WIN letter with attachments can be found here.


The 4/29/14 Trinity Journal article on the subject is below:


Board supports minimum pool for Trinity Lake

By Sally Morris The Trinity Journal | Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 6:15 am

Noting it is “gravely concerned” about the prospect of an empty reservoir otherwise known as Trinity Lake, the Trinity County Board of Supervisors on Monday endorsed a proposed Assembly bill that would establish a minimum cold-water storage level in the reservoir to ensure compliance with temperature objectives to protect salmon and steelhead survival in the Trinity River.

AB 1914 was authored by District 2 Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro as the Trinity River Water Rights Conformance Act and was scheduled to be heard this week in the state Capitol by the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.

Only learning of the bill late last week by one of its advocates, the California Water Impact Network, the board scheduled a special meeting on Monday, April 28, to consider taking a position on the proposed legislation prior to the hearing in Sacramento.

Just three members were present as one is away on vacation and Sup. John Fenley was already in Sacramento for other meetings. He will present the board’s position and letter of support for AB 1914 at the committee hearing.

The bill would require the State Water Resources Control Board to conform the Bureau of Reclamation’s water permits to the Trinity River Record of Decision and temperature objectives in the Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast region, as well as establish minimum cold water storage carryover criteria to meet the temperature objectives.

In its letter of support, the Board of Supervisors notes it has been waiting to no avail for the State Water Resources Control Board to fulfill its commitment made to Trinity County 25 years ago to hold a water right hearing to implement Trinity River temperature objectives to protect salmon and steelhead.

The Bureau of Reclamation does not operate Trinity Reservoir in a manner to meet any particular cold water carryover storage requirements to ensure compliance with Trinity River temperature objectives contained in the Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast region. For instance, the critically dry forecast for 2014 indicates that Trinity Reservoir may run out of cold water to meet temperature objectives or possibly even run dry by the end of this third year of drought.

The proposed bill would require the State Water Resources Control Board to determine adequate cold water carryover storage in Trinity Reservoir to meet the river’s temperature objectives and incorporate those requirements into the Bureau of Reclamation’s water right permits.

In 2012, the Bureau of Reclamation produced a report indicating that cold water carryover storage of less than 750,000 acre-feet in Trinity Lake is “problematic” for meeting temperature objectives in the river. The National Marine Fisheries Service in 2000 issued a biological opinion indicating a minimum pool of 600,000 acre-feet by Sept. 30 is needed to meet Trinity River temperature objectives and the agency is currently in the process of producing a new biological opinion.

The latest critically dry forecast and operation models for the lake show it dropping from a current level of approximately 1.3 million acre-feet of water to 546,000 acre-feet of water by the end of September and running nearly dry by year’s end unless there is a wet fall.

During Monday’s special board meeting, County Administrative Officer Wendy Tyler said, “I’ll be the first to tell you, it’s water so it’s a contentious issue, but the county has taken the position for years of fighting for a minimum cold water storage pool in the lake. I’m recommending approval of a letter in support because it’s consistent with the position taken by the county for several years.”

There is also strong opposition to the proposed legislation, primarily from the Trinity Public Utilities District as well as the Association of California Water Agencies.

The TPUD submitted a letter of opposition last week, saying AB 1914 would result in millions of dollars in additional power cost to the residents of Trinity County. It would do so by dramatically scaling back the amount of water that runs through the Trinity River Division hydropower units, thereby eliminating an inexpensive and abundant supply of clean power for the citizens of Trinity County.

“The consequence would be steep increases in the cost of power for these citizens,” it said, adding that not only would there be higher costs for residents of one of the poorest counties in the state, there are also potential employment impacts as higher electric rates would threaten the viability of Trinity River Lumber Company, the largest employer in the county.

The TPUD also believes it would be a mistake “to enshrine current scientific opinion in state law at a time when the science of restoring the Trinity fishery is evolving. This could prevent more effective measures from being implemented in the future.”

Its letter suggested an alternative of exploring the use of Trinity River Record of Decision water to create a minimum cold water pool in Trinity Lake. It noted that in wet years, there is more water than needed to meet temperature targets and maintain fish health in the river and some of that water could be carried over to create a cold water pool.

In support of the bill, the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) wrote that adopting minimum cold water carryover storage criteria to ensure compliance with temperature objectives “is just plain common sense. It will help ensure that there is enough water held over for dry periods such as the one we are experiencing to benefit all beneficial uses of water, not just the fishery.”

Furthermore, it noted that because of a lack of foresight by the Bureau of Reclamation, the current forecast shows no storage remaining in Trinity Reservoir by November as more water will be sent out of the Trinity River basin to the Sacramento River this year than reservoir inflow and instream releases combined, leaving the reservoir empty by fall.

“AB 1914 promotes saving water in storage to protect the fishery during multiple dry years, rather than waiting for a crisis like the one we are facing this year,” C-WIN said, noting the bill will also help to eliminate “paper water that exists in documents and project plans, but not in the real world.”