December 14, 2015
SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is scheduled to consider a new proposal tomorrow in an effort to keep water temperatures at a suitable level for endangered fish species, including salmon. The plan calls for setting aside an additional 200,000 acre-feet of water in Shasta Lake, to be held at least until October 2016.
Shasta Lake is part of the Central Valley Project (CVP) and is operated by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. Reclamation has responded in opposition to the proposed plan, citing a lack of adequate science to back up the decision and the potential of water rights violations.
In a December 11th letter Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director, David Murillo, wrote:
“Given the many uncertainties about future hydrologic and meteorological conditions ahead in 2016, Reclamation is concerned that setting end of year storage targets based on limited information could be detrimental to actual temperature management during the summer of 2016….Reclamation asks the Board not to adopt the proposed Order in its current form, and allow for further and fuller implementation on 2016 hydrology and water temperatures to be realized before imposing additional requirements, such as substantive carryover requirements.”
Similar efforts in 2015 were unsuccessful due to faulty temperature instruments and a lack of adequate and accurate data to inform decision making. The state is facing the potential of a fifth consecutive year of severe drought, with water supplies more precious than ever. Severe urban water restrictions remain in place and initial water supply allocations for the State Water Project are set at just 10 percent of contracted amounts.
“Before the SWRCB decides to throw yet another 200,000 acre-feet of increasingly scarce water at the salmon,” Coalition spokesperson Michael Boccadoro stated, “It would be wise to get all the facts straight and require staff to show scientific proof that the effort will actually achieve the desired benefit to imperiled fish. Fully informed decisions with an adequate opportunity for public and stakeholder input don’t seem like a lot to ask for.”