A two week comment period just opened regarding the release of Trinity River water to avoid a Klamath River fish kill. The day the government announced the comment period Central Valley farmers filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue in an attempt to stop the water releases. The Klamath River is extremely low and warm already and the fish kill alert level was recently raised to yellow. Last time a Klamath fish kill occured commercial fishing distasters were declaired for much of California and Oregon and Tribal people suffered from lack of salmon for years after the fish died.
This water is needed to avoid a fish kill because for the last two years Upper Klamath Lake has been overdrawn by farmers, and this year the area is suffering from a drought. This has lead to the Klamath Tribe in the Upper Basin using water rights to protect the lake and the lake's fish, which has shut off water to some ranchers. The river has not gotten enough water. It is low and warm and a large run of salmon is starting to come into the river. Low water coupled with a large run of salmon creates the perfect conditions for a fish kill.
Last time there was a drought and the needs of the Upper Basin trumped the river over 60,000 adult salmon died in the Klamath River. This fish kill lead to years of commercial fishing disasters for California and Oregon’s fishing communities, along with food emergencies for California’s largest Tribes.
To make things more complicated now the Central Valley farmers, which divert the Klamath’s largest tributary, the Trinity River, have entered the Klamath water wars by filing an intent to sue if additional Trinity water is released into the Klamath claiming they are also suffering from water reductions due to drought.
Last year scientists were able to secure additional releases of Trinity River water to avoid a possible large-scale fish kill in the Klamath River. These releases were made and disaster was avoided. Now they are needed again.
We are also asking the BOR and States of California and Oregon coordinate Klamath and Trinity water planning. This is needed because the Trinity is diverted into Central Valley Project in the Sacramento Valley and the Klamath is diverted for desert farming in the upper basin of the Klamath.
Regardless of who caused the Klamath Crisis action needs to be taken now to avoid a Klamath fish kill.
Mail comments to Don Reck, Bureau of Reclamation, Northern California Area Office, 16349 Shasta Dam Blvd., Shasta Lake, CA 96019, fax to 530-276-2005, or email email@example.com
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