Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Instream Flow Study on Scott and Shasta Rivers
by Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor District 5
Recently, Normandeau, a contractor
for the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG,) held a
series of meetings to begin a “data needs assessment” and to
recommend a plan of study regarding instream flows on the Scott
According to the CA Public Resources Code (PRC 10001,) the Legislature determined that there had been an increase in requests for new water use permits in streams that could have a cumulative impact on streamflows needed for fish and wildlife. The code requested the DFG Director to create a ranked list by 1984 of significant streams where establishment of minimum flow levels was needed.
PRC 10002 and 10004 require the DFG Director to initiate studies to develop proposed streamflow requirements, specified in terms of cubic feet of water per second, for each stream identified. The Director is then to transmit these proposed requirements to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB.) The requirements are to be considered by the SWRCB for any permit application, transfer, extension, or change of point of diversion, place of use, or purpose of use, if there is a diversion of water from any waterway where fish reside.
This code supposedly justifies the
initiation of the study plan for streamflow requirements in the
Scott and Shasta. One glaring problem with this is that the
Scott and the
According to the presentation by Normandeau, the problem identification has already been accomplished. It is described as” limiting factors” for “declining” Coho salmon including: water temperature; groundwater extraction or interception of springs; loss of flood plain connectivity; altered flow regime; Lack of riparian vegetation; fish passage barriers; nutrient loading; recruitment of spawning gravels; siltation of gravels and low dissolved oxygen. Presumably, all of these can be solved if the fish just had more flows. Lots of blanket assumptions there. As the DFG invitation and news release explains “The studies will allow DFG to recommend streamflows that protect fish while minimizing impacts on water diversions to best serve all stakeholders.”
Woa there! (1) This implies that there will be an impact on diversions of adjudicated water rights. (2) This implies that water use will be reallocated to best serve all “stakeholders,” regardless of whether they have a property right in use of the water. (And I thought property ownership was the right to exclusive use, enjoy and dispose of property. Apparently, individual ownership rights have now been replaced by the will of “stakeholders.”)
Because we were settled during the CA Gold
Rush, the majority of water rights in the Scott and Shasta were
acquired before 1900 – either by patent of riparian land or by
“appropriation” (diversion and beneficial use.)
It was not until 1911 that the CA
Legislature declared that "all water or use of water within the
It is hard to argue now that these pre-1914 rights are subject to some sort of “public trust” interest to “best serve all stakeholders” when these privately owned surface water rights predate any ownership claim by the People of the State.
It is also interesting to note that the DFG
actually applied for instream flow rights for fish when
Curt Thalken of Normandeau indicated that stakeholder interests would engage in “negotiation” to resolve issues and determine flow strategies. Article 1 of the California Constitution declares acquiring, possessing, and protecting property as an “inalienable right.” Why is a State agency pressuring property owners to negotiate their exclusive property rights with special interests? Why isn’t the agency respecting, protecting and defending individual property and due process rights?
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Page Updated: Tuesday December 18, 2012 12:18 AM Pacific
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