Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
The Pioneer Press at the very top of the State of California grants permission for this article to be copied and forwarded.
Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California, State of Jefferson Rancher, May 31, 2006, Summer 2006 issue, Page 5, column 1
Decisions on Scott and Shasta will set precedent
By Liz Bowen Rancher Editor, Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California
SACRAMENTO – Scott and Shasta River TMDL Action Plans are “ground zero” in the latest threat against legal water rights, according to the Farm Team Action Alerts that were sent out statewide on May 5, 2006.
The California Farm Bureau Federation Action Alert recognized that the Scott and Shasta water issues will set precedence statewide, if the California State Water Resources Control Board is able to create regulations that will reduce water right allotments in favor of presumed water quality for fish.
The state control board is in charge of water quality regarding pollution, but is expanding its jurisdiction to also create more water for fish.
New regulations are proposed for implementation through the TMDL Action Plans, which would allow the state control board to limit agriculture’s access to water in favor of increasing river flow to protect fish habitat.
“If the Board decides to attack farmers' and
ranchers' water rights in this manner, it would be a
major blow to the civil rights and economic
viability of farming communities all over the
state,” said the state Action Alert.
Apparently, “the state is obligated to establish the TMDL rules,” said Eiler, “but the state control board is under no obligation to take action on water rights.”
The state control board regulates the federal Clean Water Act at the state level.
Both Eiler and the California Farm Bureau believe the Scott and Shasta TMDL Action Plans have been targeted.
A ruling against water rights in the Scott Valley watershed will set precedent for other bodies of water across the state, including, but not limited to the San Joaquin River, the Russian River and the Salton Sea, according to the Action Alert.
No decision on Shasta Valley TMDL
FORTUNA – The regional agency did not adopt the Shasta Valley TMDL Action Plan on May 18, 2006, providing a short sigh of relief for Shasta Valley ranchers.
Siskiyou County District 1 Supervisor, Jim Cook, along with the county natural resources specialist, Jim DePree, and Tom and Gail Wetter attended and spoke against the current TMDL Action Plan, to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, which was holding its monthly meeting in Fortuna.
A presentation was given by DePree showing the faulty data and incorrect assumptions that would create drastic regulations for the Shasta Valley farmers and ranchers.
As a result, the board did not adopt the Action Plan and sent it back to its staff to make corrections.
A new version of the Shasta Valley Total Maximum Daily Load Action Plan will be available for public comment until the next regional board meeting on June 28, when once again the Plan will be up for adoption by the regional board.
Scott TMDL will not be on June 7 agenda
SACRAMENTO – Bill Krum, president of the Siskiyou Resource Conservation District based in Etna, received information on May 25 that the Scott River TMDL Action Plan will not be on the June 7 agenda of the State Water Resources Control Board meeting.
The Total Maximum Daily Load of state perceived impairments of water quality in the Scott River has been followed by the creation of an Action Plan to address those perceived impairments. Local residents participated in the development of the plan and by last summer were extremely upset that their information, data and science was not being utilized by the staff (employees) of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Ultimately, last December the Scott River Action TMDL Action Plan developed by the regional staff was accepted by the regional water quality board. That plan was then forwarded to the State Water Control Board, which by law must then adopt the plan as an amendment to the Klamath Basin Plan or not adopted. If it is not adopted, it must be sent back to the regional board for its staff to fix.
But the state board threw in a monkey wrench at its April 19 meeting, when it did not adopt the plan, but instead chose to hold a “workshop” at its June 7 meeting regarding water flows in the Scott River.
Because of the continued pounding on water flow levels in the Scott, Krum is “increasingly concerned about the direction the state board may take with regard to water rights in the Scott and Shasta.”
In observation, it looks like the state may demand increased water flows in the Scott, which would pit new regulations from the TMDL Action Plan against legal water rights in reducing the allotments of water.
Krum, and Scott River Watershed Council executive officer, Sari Sommarstom, attended the April 19 meeting from Siskiyou County expecting the state board to accept the plan. While not thrilled with all of the proposals in the plan, the RCD believed flexibility in implementation could provide a beginning for the program.
When Green advocates, such as Felice Pace of Klamath Forest Alliance and now Klamath River Keepers, gave presentations claiming illegal use of water in the Scott Valley, the state board set the “workshop” regarding flow amounts in the Scott River to be held at the June 7 meeting.
Krum told the “Rancher” on May 26, that the board was expected to move the Scott River TMDL Action Plan item to its June 21 meeting. But in checking out the state board’s website, it was not yet listed on the meeting agenda.
Jim DePree, Siskiyou County natural resource specialist, attended the state board’s mid-May meeting held in Fortuna, because the Shasta River TMDL Action Plan was up for an adoption vote. While at that meeting, DePree picked up a draft of the newly-fixed Scott River Implementation Work Plan from the regional board’s executive officer, Catherine Kuhlman.
Copies of this Work Plan are available at the Siskiyou RCD office in Etna. Call 530-467-3975.
Krum also said that the RCD has the second round of comment letters on the Scott TMDL, which was a public comment period requested by the state board. The comments were to be limited to just the issue of “flow options” and “how to improve the implementation plan.”
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2005, All Rights Reserved