But these water allocations would come at a steep cost, because they depend on draining California’s two largest reservoirs (Shasta and Oroville Reservoirs) to levels on par with—or even below—the devastating drought years of 2014 and 2015. This poses an unacceptably high risk of killing the vast majority of endangered salmon below Shasta Dam this year, like in 2014 and 2015 when endangered salmon runs on the Sacramento River downstream of Shasta Dam were decimated by lethal water temperatures, as the tables below show:
Shasta Reservoir (Bureau of Reclamation):
End of April Storage
End of September Storage
Estimated Temperature Dependent Mortality of Endangered Winter-Run Chinook Salmon
Draining California’s major reservoirs won’t just kill off the salmon that spawn below these dams and threaten thousands of fishing jobs that depend on healthy salmon run; it also means that California will be very badly unprepared if 2022 is also dry.
Check out the full report, as it’s an eye-opening read.