Tell California To Prioritize Fish and Cities Above Industrial Ag in New Water Plan

Tell California To Prioritize Fish and Cities Above Industrial Ag in New Water Plan

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Save California Salmon ! started this petition to Bureau of Reclamation and

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is inviting public input on the Reinitiation of Consultation on the Long-Term Operation of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. This process decides how much water goes to many of California’s rivers, bays and estuaries, to cities and to agriculture. In the past agriculture has been prioritized above both towns and cities, water quality and fish, which has caused toxic algae blooms and seawater intrusion in drinking water supplies, and literally cooked fish in the rivers. 

What are the Central Valley Water and State Projects? 

The Central Valley Water Project (CVP) is a federal water diversion project that is operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). The State Water Project (SWP) is operated by the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR). These projects impact the Trinity, Klamath, Feather, Yuba, American, Sacramento, San Joaquin and many other rivers. The dams on the Sacramento, Trinity, American, Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers are part of the Federal project and the dam at Oroville on the Feather River, is the keystone of the State Water Project. The projects include 34 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes; 20 pumping plants; hydroelectric  plants; and about 700 miles of canals and pipelines. Most of the dams do not have fish passage. 

Both the CVP and the SWP  provide water to towns, cities and ag and produce significant hydroelectric power.  DWR and BOR create the water operations plan and then NOAA fisheries releases a Biological Opinion (BiOp) under the Endangered species Act based on the plan. Sometimes they make changes in operations if they will cause endangered species to go extinct. 

The state of California controls all water rights and the State Water Resources Control board can also ask for plans to not violate state law. Interior also is supposed to make sure Tribal rights are protected in this process and Tribes are consulted. 

The last BiOp under the Trump administration gave 22% more water to agriculture than the previous plan and caused massive fish kills in the Sacramento River. Previous plans also caused massive fish kills. The state approved the plans and water quality exemptions that caused these fish kills and let the BOR violate the plans. Due to this the majority of the winter, spring and fall run salmon died in 2022. 

All these plans impact the Trinity River, the Klamath’s largest tributary. Without enough stored water, cold water flows for salmon cannot be released when there are dry or drought years and the fish will die, like 2002 in the Lower Klamath River. 

Protections of carry over storage in reservoirs behind dams like the Trinity and Shasta dams, and Orville are critical to not only stopping fish kills, but also to making sure cities have water. Unfortunately BOR has taken the position that senior agricultural contracts and water rights take priority over cities, rivers and fish. For instance last year just rice growers used 4 times as much water as the city of LA.  DWR equally provides water to fish and farms, despite a previous priority for cities.


Talking points: 

Clean Drinking Water Should Come Before Agriculture Exports: California’s water rights system and some of the BOR’s contracts are based on 19th century water rights laws, which put large landowners above cities and the environment. This means that not only are California’s people water insecure due to agricultural diversions, the Delta, which feeds millions of people’s drinking water from has concentrated pesticide levels, toxic algae and saltwater intrusion. It is time to reform water rights laws and agricultural contracts. 

Tribal Rights and Food Security: The Bay-Delta, San Francisco Bay and rivers, like the Trinity and Sacramento are important for Tribal cultures and Tribal foodways. Tribes depend on species like salmon, sturgeon, and eels (lamprey) for their food sources. 

Fish Need Water: Our salmon are facing extinction. Current water operations have killed almost all the winter run salmon, and much of the spring and fall run and Delta smelt in the Sacramento River and Bay Delta. Low flows in the Trinity River are also harming fish. Flow protections for fish are critical. 

Plan for Climate Change: Reservoir’s carry over storage and instream flows needs to be protected to protect Californians’ water from droughts. 

Bring The Salmon Home: Fish passage and reintroduction of salmon to the areas above  dams is the only way to stop the extinction of winter and spring run salmon. This process should support the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s request for a fishway around the Shasta dam and other fish passage proposals. 

Do not Prioritize the Delta Tunnel and Sites Reservoir: California’s governor’s proposals to build the Sites Reservoir and Delta tunnel under his Water Resilience Portfolio will further dewater California's rivers and impact Tribes and power and water rates. They should not be prioritized in this plan. State water quality updates and flow plans should be. 

Protect the Trinity and Klamath Rivers:  Trinity River water releases are critical for the Klamath salmon, the Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribe’s subsistence fishing, and ocean fishing fleet. More than half of the Trinity’s water is diverted and there are no protections for carry over storage in its reservoirs. This needs to change. 

Written Comments go to: Cindy Meyer, Bureau of Reclamation, Bay-Delta Office, 801 I Street, Suite 140, Sacramento, CA 95814-2536; or by email to 

Hearing Information will be posted at by the day prior to the meeting.  

Hearings are on: 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sacramento, CA, virtual meeting.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Red Bluff, CA, virtual meeting.
Thursday, March 10, 2022, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Fresno, CA, virtual meeting.
Tuesday, March 15, 2022, 5:306 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Los Banos, CA, virtual
Wednesday, March 16, 2022, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Tracy, CA, virtual meeting,
Thursday, March 17, 2022, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Chico, CA, virtual meeting,
There are no hearings for communities near Redding or on the Trinity or Klamath Rivers 



657 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!