On Tuesday, November 29 the State Water Resources Control Board will hold the first of five public meetings to review and take comment on a water board staff proposal to increase flows in the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers. This will be followed by water board action to increases flows from the Sacramento Valley through the Delta.
The current proposal calls for allowing more of the natural river flows to remain in the river rather than be diverted. This is to aid ailing salmon runs and other species in the rivers and Delta.
After opening remarks by members of the state water board, water board staff will give a one hour presentation on the proposal. This will be followed by public comments and presentations by several panels of stakeholders.
The proposal to increase flows doesn’t call for as much water as biologists with the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife have identified is needed to restore healthy salmon runs but represents an improvement over current conditions.
The Golden Gate Salmon Association supports the water board proposal to increase unimpaired flows in the three rivers and believes flows closer to the 60 percent in the February through June time period would greatly help juvenile salmon survive in the rivers and during their migration from the rivers through the Delta to the bay.
“No one can honestly say there is too much water being left in these rivers, some of which see 80 percent of their water diverted,” said GGSA executive director John McManus. “The massive loss of salmon and other wildlife in the Central Valley and Delta in many years is clearly connected to a lack of water being left in the rivers. No one can honestly say that state law requiring rivers downstream from dams have sufficient flows to “keep in good condition any fish… below the dam” has been followed or enforced. The rivers in question all have dams on them. Now the State Water Board needs to correct this historic wrong. Salmon aside, outbreaks of toxic blue green algae in the Delta near water intakes should be enough evidence for anyone that the Delta isn’t getting sufficient flows to keep it healthy.”
Here’s what Fish and Game code 5937 says:
The owner of any dam shall allow sufficient water at all times to pass through a fishway, or in the absence of a fishway, allow sufficient water to pass over, around or through the dam, to keep in good condition any fish that may be planted or exist below the dam.
Note: The Golden Gate Salmon Association (www.goldengatesalmonassociation.org) is a coalition of salmon advocates that includes commercial and recreational salmon fisherman, businesses, restaurants, a native tribe, environmentalists, elected officials, families and communities that rely on salmon. GGSA’s mission is to protect and restore California’s largest salmon producing habitat comprised of the Central Valley river’s that feed the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that rely on salmon as a long-term, sustainable, commercial, recreational and cultural resource.