Sep 10, 2012
Trinity River concerns raised as plan moves forward
September 9, 2012
The role the Trinity River plays in a controversial state and federal plan to transport water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to Southern California will be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.
After six proclamations and recognition items, the board will take up the new Bay Delta Conservation Plan at 10 a.m. Gov. Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the plan in July. The plan aims to provide a more reliable water supply to Southern California, while also implementing a 50-year Delta restoration program to protect fish and wildlife.
The plan proposes two parallel tunnels, each 33 feet in diameter, to draw water from the Sacramento River and divert it around the Delta, according to a Humboldt County staff report. The water would be diverted about 37 miles to facilities near Tracy for delivery to Southern California.
Humboldt County Senior Environmental Analyst Jill Duffy, a former county supervisor, is making a presentation to the board Tuesday about the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. She said there are concerns about the possibility for increased diversions from the Trinity River as the plan moves forward.
The Trinity River is the Klamath River’s largest tributary. The county, along with various Native American tribes and environmental groups, has been trying to increase and maintain the Klamath’s flows for decades. Commercial, tribal and recreational fishermen have said keeping the Klamath healthy and robust is essential to their trade, as the river typically hosts large runs of salmon each fall.
Duffy said the plan doesn’t address Humboldt County’s needs. It doesn’t specifically recognize the June 19, 1959, contract signed by the county and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that mandates the government release sufficient water from the Trinity River so that not less than 50,000 acre-feet is available each year for downstream users like Humboldt County. In addition, Duffy said, the plan doesn’t address the Trinity River Division Act — passed by Congress on Aug. 12, 1955 — in which Humboldt County is named a party of interest.
She said the 1959 water allocation contract is unresolved, as the county hasn’t always received the 50,000 acre-feet of water it was promised — thus it hasn’t been included in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s modeling assumptions. The county has asked multiple times that Salazar and the Bureau of Reclamation make that water available, according to the county report.
Duffy said the supervisors need to take a stance on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
”It’s an important opportunity for Humboldt County to assert its rights,” Duffy said.
The supervisors are being asked by county staff to take a stance on the plan and its water rights by way of a resolution that will be sent to Brown, Salazar, Congressman Mike Thompson, Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, Sen. Noreen Evans, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and Yurok Tribe.
For the complete Board of Supervisors meeting agenda and supporting documents, go online to www.co.humboldt.ca.us/board/agenda/questys/.
IF YOU GO:
What: Board of Supervisors meeting
Where: Supervisors’ Chamber, first floor, Humboldt County Courthouse, 825 Fifth St.
When: 9 a.m. Tuesday
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This information and much more that you need to know about the ESA,
the Klamath River Basin, and private property rights can be found at The
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please visit today.
Aug 21, 2012
Posted: Monday, August 20, 2012 11:00 AM
SAN FRANCISCO — Two water districts in the San Joaquin Valley are voicing concerns over a proposal here to drain the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park, which provides water for an estimated 2.5 million San Francisco Bay area customers.
San Francisco voters will consider in November a measure to study removing or breaching the city-owned Tuolumne River dam at Hetch Hetchy and restoring the valley to its natural state. If it is approved, another ballot measure in four years would spell out details of the project.
However, the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts, which together provide irrigation for several hundred square miles of farmland, say their Don Pedro Reservoir can’t take on any more water if Hetch Hetchy’s dam comes out.
Further, the two districts chide San Francisco officials for trying to link the 30-year-old Don Pedro dam’s relicensing to Hetch Hetchy’s fate, and they say it’s the wrong time to take away any dams.
“We don’t feel this is the time to reduce water storage capacity in our water-short state,” MID spokeswoman Melissa Williams said, “or reduce the amount of clean, affordable energy in California.”
Restore Hetch Hetchy, the group behind the ballot measure, argues the reservoir is only one of nine that comprise the San Francisco Public Utility Commission’s water system and stores less than one-quarter of the system’s water.
The city has a water bank in the Don Pedro Reservoir and has the nearby Cherry Reservoir, to which more water can be diverted from the Tuolumne River upstream from Don Pedro.
Spreck Rosekrans, Restore Hetch Hetchy’s director of policy, said no impact would be felt by farms that rely on water from the river.
“By diverting the Tuolumne River below Yosemite National Park and by diverting storage supplies from Cherry Reservoir during the dry portion of the year, 95 percent of the water that currently flows from the Tuolumne River to the Bay area would still be available,” Rosekrans said.
“The remaining 5 percent needs to be replaced by adding additional storage to the system, conserving water, recycling water or other means,” he said.
The hydrology debate is one of many generated by the ballot initiative, Measure F, which ironically has the support of Republican lawmakers and environmentalists but is opposed by city officials and the city’s two most powerful Democrats, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
Adding to the irony is that many Democratic leaders have pushed for dam removal in other parts of the country, including the Klamath Basin, although Feinstein and Pelosi have been relatively silent on that issue.
City officials argue there are no real alternatives to Hetch Hetchy. The gravity-fed system serves 7 percent of California’s population, with turbines from its dams generating power for city buildings, streetlights and traffic signals, the airport and the transit system, they argue.
Studies by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the California Department of Water Resources and others show restoring the valley is technically feasible.
However, the cost estimates range from $3 billion to $10 billion, and Measure F doesn’t spell out who would pay the bill.
Neither Feinstein’s nor Pelosi’s offices returned messages from the Capital Press seeking comment. Feinstein told The AP that replacing the water supply from Hetch Hetchy would be “unrealistic when California already lacks infrastructure to provide enough water for its economy or environment.”
Still, Rosekrans said the question of whether to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley to its natural state is “a conversation worth having,” and he believes San Francisco residents will be open to studying the idea.
“This has been a difficult issue for the elected officials who represent San Francisco, and they’ve been unwilling to engage in a conversation about restoring one of America’s flagship national parks,” he said. “So we’re taking the issue to the people of San Francisco. If the people lead, the leaders will follow.”