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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Truckee River Flows Drop

The flows have just significantly dropped on the Truckee river. That, compounded with already high water temperatures, is putting extra stress on the fish. Local anglers have decided to make an ethical call to stop fishing the river after noon. This is a good idea not only on the Truckee but something we can all think about on temperature impacted fisheries across the state.

The proposed ‘Hoot Owl Closure’ is explained in this video by catchsnaprelease.com in partnership with Truckee River Keepers. Please support the effort.

The Week’s Newsbytes

The Week’s Newsbytes

Groundwater Management: Today’s Hot Topic…Finally

California remains the only state in the union without statewide regulation of groundwater. Lack of regulation creates an unsustainable ‘tragedy of the commons’ use of groundwater, especially during dry years. California’s severe drought and full consequences of increased groundwater pumping — including dry wells, rivers drying up, and land subsidence—have heightened awareness of groundwater issues. Groundwater is a wonky topic, but important to fish because it often sustains river flows during drought.

CalTrout and other leaders have come together to make sure our state does the right thing, right now with the launch of the Groundwater Voices Coalition website, sponsored by the California Water Foundation. The site aims to educate decision makers about the need for more effective and sustainable groundwater management. Check it out and educate yourself on this important issue. www.groundwatervoices.com

In other groundbreaking groundwater news,

A Sacramento Superior Court judge issued a ruling Tuesday requiring regulation of groundwater pumping to protect a river in Siskiyou County.  Attorneys on both sides say it’s the first time a California court has ruled the “public trust doctrine” applies to groundwater. The doctrine says the State of California holds all waterways for the benefit of the people.  The lawsuit claimed groundwater pumping in the Scott River Basin is partly responsible for decreased river flows – limiting the public’s use of the river and harming fish habitat. … 

Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Sacramento Judge Makes Precedent-Setting Ruling On Groundwater Regulation