Stop Sites: Don't Drain NorCal Rivers for A Private Reservoir

Stop Sites: Don't Drain NorCal Rivers for A Private Reservoir

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Save California Salmon ! started this petition to Sites Joint Project Authority Sites JPA and

Help us oppose the proposed 13,200 acres reservoir in the foothills west of the Sacramento River. The new Sites Reservoir in Northern California would be the size of Manhattan, could store up to 1.5-million acre-feet of water, and make it almost half the size of Shasta Reservoir. The reservoir would be owned by the private entity the Sites Project Authority, which is made up mainly of State Water Project (SWP) water contractors and irrigation districts. The authority is already offering new water rights in watersheds where five times more water is allocated than exists to powerful water districts, like the Metropolitan Water District. A previously filed water rights application for the Sites project asked for 3-million acre-feet of water a year. 

MWD has stated it is reluctant to invest in Sites if it cannot be assured it will be able to pull its water out of the reservoir when it wants to. This has led many to believe the reservoirs would be used to fill Governor Brown’s twin tunnels. 

The proposal includes inundating four creeks and adds new diversion pumps on the Sacramento River in Red Bluff. It does not include protections for the Trinity River or Upper Sacramento River salmon or for the Tribes and fishermen that depend on them despite the fact it will lower flows and impact water quality some years. Water rights held by Tribes and counties and flows to avert fish kills in the Klamath River are currently not protected in the Sites proposal.

In theory, these pumps are meant to divert and store “surplus” water in winter and summer months, but they would also increase diversions and that would later return as sun-warmed water increasing the river’s temperature.

In truth, there is no “extra” water in this part of California, where up to 75% of the salmon habitat has been blocked by dams. Fisheries science has now proven that high flows during winter and spring are needed if salmon are to survive in California.

High flows have many benefits. Flushing flows in high water years inundate floodplains, help out migrating salmon, scour out sediments and algae, move spawning gravel, and reduce fish diseases, all of which greatly increase salmon numbers. In fact, new flow science coupled with extremely low salmon returns has led the state water board to create plans to restore winter and spring flows in the Sacramento River. In the Klamath watershed, the Trinity Management Council, which the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes are members of, is recommending higher winter flows in the Trinity River and a recent lawsuit has forced higher spring flows in the Klamath River to combat the C. shasta fish disease, which killed the majority of juvenile salmon in recent years. Steps have also been taken to use Trinity River reservoir water for fall cold water releases to prevent large scale adult fish kills in the Klamath River during droughts.

Restoring flows are needed to bring back salmon. The Sites Proposal threatens all of these actions, and it could not come at a worse time. A recent report from U.C. Davis shows that over 45% of California salmon are facing extinction. Furthermore, the Klamath River is facing the worst salmon returns in history and wild Spring Chinook returns in the Klamath, Trinity and Sacramento Rivers last year numbered in the hundreds.

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!
At 75,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!