The Week’s Newsbytes

No Flow on the Eel River

The Eel River has officially stopped flowing in the lower reach, cutting off migratory fish from their passage to the Ocean as shown in the video below by Eel River Recovery Project.

This year, more than ever, underscores the importance of the work CalTrout is doing in the Eel River drainage to help create multi-agency water management solutions to keep water in the river for fish. 

Click to learn more about CalTrout’s Eel River Restoration Project and Coho Recovery Project and let’s hope the Eel gets some rain soon.

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Groundwater Bills Passed by California Legislature

Last week, the California legislature passed a package of groundwater legislation — AB1739, authored by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, and companion bills SB1168 and SB1319.  The bills will now go to Governor Brown, who is expected to sign them.

CalTrout has been advocating for groundwater reform in California, the only state that does not currently regulate groundwater (see our June letter to legislators on the topic).  Legislation is needed to ensure that groundwater and surface water resources are managed in a sustainable and integrated manner to avoid impacts to stream flow levels and the biological resources that depend upon the stream flows, such as cold-water fish.

Together, these bills do just that.  They would require local agencies to implement groundwater management programs and establish the conditions for state intervention in groundwater management.  Assemblyman Dickinson’s website summarized the critical policy changes the bills address in order to achieve sustainable management of CA’s groundwater basins as:

  • establish key definitions that will guide sustainable groundwater management plans and programs, including the definition of sustainable groundwater.
  • require local land-use plans to take into consideration adopted groundwater sustainability plans and to assess the impact of land-use on groundwater resources.
  • focus sustainable groundwater management on those basins which are at high or medium risk of overdraft
  • define the components of a groundwater sustainability plan and  authorize a variety of tools for local groundwater management entities to use in achieving sustainable groundwater levels.
  • require establishment of an entity to develop a local groundwater management plan within 2 years.  They then have 3 – 5 years to develop and implement a sustainable groundwater basin management plan.  They then have 20 years to achieve a manageable groundwater basin.  Plans must be reviewed every 5 years and update if necessary.
  • provide for a state “backstop” to allow the State Water Resources Control Board to develop an interim plan for a basin when local communities have not met requirements set forth in the legislation.
  • require the inclusion of diverse interests in the community when developing and adopting the plan.

In addition to advocating for groundwater reform, CalTrout also worked hard to get $100M in the 2014 water bond to fund such reform.

We’re optimistic that Governor Brown will sign these bills and set the stage for more sustainable use of California’s most precious resource.

 

 

The Week’s Newsbytes

  • CalTrout is hosting the 2014 Fly Fishing Film Tour in Redding on Sat., Oct 4th. Be sure to catch these great films while… ->

The Week’s Newsbytes

CalTrout Approves of $7.5 Billion Water Bond

Tuesday's meeting with the Governor. CalTrout's Curtis Knight seated far left

Tuesday’s meeting with the Governor. CalTrout’s Curtis Knight seated far left

CalTrout has been actively involved over the past few weeks, and especially over the last couple of days, in the water bond negotiations. On Tuesday, Curtis Knight, CalTrout’s Conservation Director, was in Sacramento as part of a diverse group that met with the Governor to put forth a water bond proposal.

After final negotiations last night, the Governor and legislative leadership voted on and approved a $7.545 billion bond. The ongoing severe drought in California underscores the need to invest in innovative, long-term solutions to California’s water future.  CalTrout believes the Water Bond of 2014 provides the right balance of investment to facilitate sustainable water management in California. Here are some highlights…

  • $1.495 billionProtecting Rivers, Lakes, Streams, Coastal Waters and Watersheds
    The Water Bond will support priority on-the-ground watershed restoration work, with funding distributed in a way that will ensure an equitable investment of these funds across the state, from our coastal wetlands to our inland rivers, lakes and streams.  Funding will go to existing conservancies and for the first time ever the Department of Fish and Wildlife will receive allocated funding. It provides funding for the state’s obligation for Klamath dam removal ($250 million), fish passage, addressing impacts of climate change, watershed restoration projects, land acquisition and instream flow enhancements (acquisition of water rights).
  • $810 millionRegional Water Security, Climate, and Drought Preparedness
    Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM), including funding for water recycling, groundwater management, water supply and other projects. While CalTrout has had mixed success working within the IRWM framework, we recognize the value of this program, and support inclusion of significant funds for its continuation.  CalTrout is actively involved in IRWM projects in the Eastern Sierra.
  • $2.7 billionStatewide water System Operational Improvement and Drought Preparedness
    This is water storage which could potentially lead to new dams and was the sticking point for many Republicans. They wanted $3 billion for Los Voqueros Reservoir expansion, building Temperence Flat (on San Joaquin above Millerton Reservoir) and Sites Reservoir (off channel storage west of Colusa in Central Valley). To build any of these surface storage project would also require a substantial user (water districts, irrigations districts) pay match.

    The Water Storage provision remains the most controversial for CalTrout.  We remain concerned about how and where water storage dollars will be appropriated.  We understand priorities for where to spend these dollars are on two projects—an expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir in the East Bay and newly constructed Sites Reservoir, an off channel reservoir west of I-5 in the Sacramento Valley.  The other project that gets mentioned is Temperance Flat, a new dam just above Millerton Reservoir (Friant Dam) on the San Joaquin.

    These funds can also be used for groundwater storage, conjunctive use and reservoir re-operations—important points we lobbied for. Groundwater storage has huge potential and needed to part of this mix.

  • $725 millionWater Recycling
    This section was very important to Southern California legislators—storm water runoff, salt water intrusion mitigation, etc.
  • $900 millionGroundwater Sustainability
    Another important section that provides funding to implement groundwater reform legislation we are actively supporting. Groundwater treatment, storage and sustainable management.   Conjunctive use of surface and groundwater supplies is critical to preparing for future droughts in California.  The Water Bond is coordinated with pending groundwater management reform legislation.
  • $520 millionClean, Safe and Reliable Drinking Water
  • $395 millionFlood Management
    We worked hard on this section to make it not just about levees. We secured language that calls for projects to be multi-benefit projects—public safety and river healthy. This ties into our work at Knagg’s Ranch and provides potential funding for future floodplain projects.

During drought times we need to find collaborative solutions that work for people and fish. Trout, steelhead and salmon are important indicators of watershed health and are important drivers of many rural and coastal economies. Work done to improve the status of these species directly benefits safe drinking water supplies, water quality, and the economic health of all Californians. We believe this water bond is a step in that direction.

 

CalTrout Supports Proposed Water Bond

The ongoing severe drought in California underscores the need to invest in innovative, long-term solutions to California’s water future. We need to find the right balance of investment to facilitate sustainable water management in California.Water Bond FLOOR ALERT DRAFT

During drought times we need to find collaborative solutions that work for people and fish. Trout, steelhead and salmon are important indicators of watershed health and are important drivers of many rural and coastal economies. Work done to improve the status of these species directly benefits safe drinking water supplies, water quality, and the economic health of all Californians.

CalTrout supports the water bond proposal AB1471/SB866 currently being voted on in the legislature.

 

PacifiCorp Klamath Project Agreement to Lessen Impact of Drought

PacifiCorp, the company supplying power to parts of Oregon, Washington and Northern California, has agreed to release water from its reservoirs to lessen the impact of drought in the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Project.

“This proposal is an opportunity to positively contribute to the health of federally listed fish species in Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River, supports tribal interests, and will prove beneficial to Project irrigators for the 2014 water year during these critical drought conditions,”  said Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Deputy Regional Director Jason Phillips. 

While the Bureau’s news release does not make clear when any additional Klamath River flow releases will be made to protect adult salmon now moving into the lower river, it is welcome news that the Klamath water users, specifically PacifiCorp, step to the plate to protect these fish. It is especially important that terms of the newly revised Klamath Project biological opinion be followed, even in these difficult drought years.

CalTrout also welcomes Reclamation reconsidering the use of Trinity water if conditions in the lower Klamath deteriorate throughout the remainder of this drought season.

To read the Bureau of Reclamation’s full press release, click here.

The Week’s Newsbytes

Eiler Fire Threatens Hat Creek

Two large wildfires burning in the Northern California threaten fisheries and the Hat Creek Restoration Site. The Eiler fire is still only 20% contained and burning less then 10 miles from our Hat Creek Restoration site. The Bald Fire is 30% contained and still threatens the town of Burney. Cassel, Johnson Park and Big Eddy Estates have all been evacuated and a Evacuation Advisory is still in effect for the town of Burney. 

For updates on the fire see the stories at:
http://wildfiretoday.com/page/2/

http://www.krcrtv.com/tuesday-fire-update-containment-of-eiler-fire-grows-to-20/27319984

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