Below are current and past Change.org campaigns by Save California Salmon. Even if the deadlines have passed, the petitions will still be updated at times. Please sign up to our newsletter for the latest campaigns or check back here frequently for our latest petition.
Save California Salmon
Tell California To Prioritize Fish and Cities Above Industrial Ag in New Water Plan
The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is inviting public input on the Reinitiation of Consultation on the Long-Term Operation of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. This process decides how much water goes to many of California’s rivers, bays and estuaries, to cities and to agriculture. In the past agriculture has been prioritized above both towns and cities, water quality and fish, which has caused toxic algae blooms and seawater intrusion in drinking water supplies, and literally cooked fish in the rivers.
What are the Central Valley Water and State Projects?
The Central Valley Water Project (CVP) is a federal water diversion project that is operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). The State Water Project (SWP) is operated by the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR). These projects impact the Trinity, Klamath, Feather, Yuba, American, Sacramento, San Joaquin and many other rivers. The dams on the Sacramento, Trinity, American, Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers are part of the Federal project and the dam at Oroville on the Feather River, is the keystone of the State Water Project. The projects include 34 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes; 20 pumping plants; hydroelectric plants; and about 700 miles of canals and pipelines. Most of the dams do not have fish passage.
Both the CVP and the SWP provide water to towns, cities and ag and produce significant hydroelectric power. DWR and BOR create the water operations plan and then NOAA fisheries releases a Biological Opinion (BiOp) under the Endangered species Act based on the plan. Sometimes they make changes in operations if they will cause endangered species to go extinct.
The state of California controls all water rights and the State Water Resources Control board can also ask for plans to not violate state law. Interior also is supposed to make sure Tribal rights are protected in this process and Tribes are consulted.
The last BiOp under the Trump administration gave 22% more water to agriculture than the previous plan and caused massive fish kills in the Sacramento River. Previous plans also caused massive fish kills. The state approved the plans and water quality exemptions that caused these fish kills and let the BOR violate the plans. Due to this the majority of the winter, spring and fall run salmon died in 2022.
All these plans impact the Trinity River, the Klamath’s largest tributary. Without enough stored water, cold water flows for salmon cannot be released when there are dry or drought years and the fish will die, like 2002 in the Lower Klamath River.
Protections of carry over storage in reservoirs behind dams like the Trinity and Shasta dams, and Orville are critical to not only stopping fish kills, but also to making sure cities have water. Unfortunately BOR has taken the position that senior agricultural contracts and water rights take priority over cities, rivers and fish. For instance last year just rice growers used 4 times as much water as the city of LA. DWR equally provides water to fish and farms, despite a previous priority for cities.
Clean Drinking Water Should Come Before Agriculture Exports: California’s water rights system and some of the BOR’s contracts are based on 19th century water rights laws, which put large landowners above cities and the environment. This means that not only are California’s people water insecure due to agricultural diversions, the Delta, which feeds millions of people’s drinking water from has concentrated pesticide levels, toxic algae and saltwater intrusion. It is time to reform water rights laws and agricultural contracts.
Tribal Rights and Food Security: The Bay-Delta, San Francisco Bay and rivers, like the Trinity and Sacramento are important for Tribal cultures and Tribal foodways. Tribes depend on species like salmon, sturgeon, and eels (lamprey) for their food sources.
Fish Need Water: Our salmon are facing extinction. Current water operations have killed almost all the winter run salmon, and much of the spring and fall run and Delta smelt in the Sacramento River and Bay Delta. Low flows in the Trinity River are also harming fish. Flow protections for fish are critical.
Plan for Climate Change: Reservoir’s carry over storage and instream flows needs to be protected to protect Californians’ water from droughts.
Bring The Salmon Home: Fish passage and reintroduction of salmon to the areas above dams is the only way to stop the extinction of winter and spring run salmon. This process should support the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s request for a fishway around the Shasta dam and other fish passage proposals.
Do not Prioritize the Delta Tunnel and Sites Reservoir: California’s governor’s proposals to build the Sites Reservoir and Delta tunnel under his Water Resilience Portfolio will further dewater California's rivers and impact Tribes and power and water rates. They should not be prioritized in this plan. State water quality updates and flow plans should be.
Protect the Trinity and Klamath Rivers: Trinity River water releases are critical for the Klamath salmon, the Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribe’s subsistence fishing, and ocean fishing fleet. More than half of the Trinity’s water is diverted and there are no protections for carry over storage in its reservoirs. This needs to change.
Written Comments go to: Cindy Meyer, Bureau of Reclamation, Bay-Delta Office, 801 I Street, Suite 140, Sacramento, CA 95814-2536; or by email to sha-MPR-BDO@usbr.gov.
Hearing Information will be posted at www.usbr.gov/mp/bdo by the day prior to the meeting.
Create a Just Future: Reform California's Racist Water Rights System
This year California is facing a drought, drinking water shortages, toxic algal blooms and the collapse of our salmon runs. This means cities water supplies are threatened, along with Native People's food and cultures, water quality and coastal fishing economies. Climate change has made California droughts common.
California's salmon are facing extinction and cities cities drinking water systems are under threat. Despite these facts in 2021California's rice farmers alone used four times as much water as the city of Los Angeles due to the fact that they have senior water rights. Water is a human right yet famers and large landowners have been flood irrigating while towns, Tribals and salmon struggle for water.
It is time to reform our water rights system, which puts water rights that are from pre-1914 over all other uses, including cities and rivers. This system was created to support Gold Rush farmers that were actively engaging in genocide of Native people lands at a time when woman and people of color could not own land. These unjust rights are why Agriculture uses 80% of the state’s water while only bringing in about 3% of our GDP, and are allowed to flood irrigate during droughts. Many of their crops, like almonds and alfalfa, are export crops.
Almost a million Californians lack access to clean water, many of whom watch as almond orchards get clean water, while they do not.
The government will continue to prioritize corporate water brokers and export-based agriculture over Californians cities, Native people and rivers until we reform our racist and classist water rights system.
BOR: Do Not Divert More Trinity/Klamath Water
Tell the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to Not Divert Trinity (and Klamath) River Water into the Sacramento River.
California is facing a historic drought that is caused by climate change. Due to the drought and the fact the state and federal government diverted too much water to agriculture almost all of the winter run salmon will, or have died in the Sacramento River. Most of the juvenile salmon also died in the Klamath River and many of it's tributaries are close to going dry due to diversions. The state also let the majority of young salmon die in California's rivers during the last drought, and now Tribes and fishermen are dealing with large scale fishing shut downs of reductions.
The situation is dire as California's salmon are nearing extinction, reservoirs dangerously low are adult salmon are starting to dye.
Soon the Klamath River adult salmon will run, but not in high numbers and when they come back they could face low and warm water conditions. During drought years the Trinity River, the Klamath's largest tributary is used to stop Klamath River fish kills. This year, however the BOR is proposing to divert 36,000 acre feet from the Trinity River and drawing down Whiskeytown Lake, the reservoir where Trinity River water is stored before going into the Sacramento River and to Central Valley industrial farms rather then releasing extra cold water to advert Klamath fish kills.
The purported need for the project is “evaluate additional temperature control measures that could improve Reclamation’s ability to control temperatures and minimize temperature dependent mortality for winter-run Chinook salmon. The four alternatives include taking additional water from Whiskeytown (35 TAF and 51 TAF), reducing Shasta Dam and Keswick releases to violate Delta water quality standards and impacting M&I customers, and taking an additional 36 TAF from Trinity Lake. However, none of these alternatives protects salmon or water quality in the Trinity or Sacramento rivers and creates a “Sophie’s Choice” for river advocates.
However, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has opined that Reclamation will kill 100% of winter-run Chinook juveniles in 2021, so what is the point?
The real point of this exercise is to come up with additional water to meet Reclamation’s excessive agricultural deliveries to the Sacramento River Settlement and San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors.
No Atlantic Salmon Farm in Humboldt County: Demand an Environmental Analysis
Nordic Aquafarms, a multi-national aquaculture corporation based in Norway, is proposing to develop 50+ acres of the Samoa Peninsula into a large land-based Atlantic salmon farm. The facility- which would be leased for 30 years- would produce up to 5 million fish per year in a RAS (Recirculating Aquaculture System) that would draw in water from Humboldt Bay and the Mad River, circulate the water through fish culture tanks, and discharge polluted water back into the Ocean. This facility would be located at sea-level, adjacent to Humboldt Bay, in a tsunami zone, and the site will see the impacts of sea level rise.
Nordic is currently applying for a Clean Water Act discharge permit (NPDES permit) permit from Humboldt County, despite not having submitted a Disaster Preparedness Report and Action Plan, a Biological Assessment for effects to Endangered Species and Critical Habitat, or a Cumulative Impacts Analysis. The Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration did not include the full range of effects of the project and deferred mitigation to outside parties. This does not enable a full CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) public process, and avoids a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) impact analysis. Any other project of this magnitude would be required to conduct a full environmental impact analysis.
Please take action and ask that Humboldt County conducts a full environmental assessment of this proposal. North Coast communities deserve to know the impacts of this massive fish farm.
Why should Nordic provide a full environmental assessment?
Nordic proposes to withdraw 2 million gallons per day (MGD) of freshwater from the Mad River. If this level of withdrawal occurs during an extreme drought, river flows could be reduced by 30%. This level of withdrawal during an extreme drought is likely to result in death and injury to juvenile Chinook salmon and steelhead in a manner that has not been analyzed, addressed, or considered.
The facility would deposit 298 metric tons of Nitrogen compounds (NHx and NOx) per year into potential salmon rearing and migrating habitats and further contribute to the nitrification of Humboldt Bay.
Warm effluent would discharge into coastal waters near the entrance to Humboldt Bay and the Mad River estuary. Tidal influences conveying effluent into the Mad River and the Eel River have not been adequately considered. Project modeling demonstrates that effluent will enter Humboldt Bay.
The facility is energy-intensive and would contribute to a large percentage of Humboldt County’s CO2 emissions. The conservative electricity estimate provided by Nordic of 21.5 Megawatts is equivalent to building over 10,000 new homes in the Humboldt Bay area. Trucking the salt-laden sewage waste alone would generate 846 metric tons of CO2 per year.
Toxins in fish feed accumulate within farmed fish and the waters they are raised in. Toxins include bioaccumulative toxic substances (PBTSs), monomethyl mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s). In addition, Ethoxyquin, used to keep the fishmeal from exploding and rotting, is banned in the US, but may be used on ships conveying fishmeal from the Southern Hemisphere. These chemicals are known to damage DNA and organs and cause reproductive disorders. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are also common in aquaculture facilities and can leak into local waterways via effluent.
High-density animal farming often results in fish stress, disease, and mortality. The continuous circulation of water within the system can foster the growth and spread of pathogens. Thus far, Nordic claims not to have had a disease outbreak on one of their farms, but admits this is always a possibility.
Since the project would likely harm local fish populations and their habitats, take more water from the Mad River, and pollute waterways, these repercussions would disproportionately impact Indigenous communities whose subsistence, economies, and cultural practices are tied to the health of aquatic ecosystems. Consolidating food production within the hands of a multinational corporation is not what real sustainability or food security looks like- for Humboldt, the region, or California.
Humboldt County recently declared that the project would have no significant environmental impacts, despite not having conducted a full environmental impact report (EIR). We demand that the County conducts a more rigorous review. A full environmental impact report is necessary, and communities need time to review this full report BEFORE the project is approved. Humboldt County is currently receiving public comments on the proposed fish farm.
Sign this petition to tell the Water Board and the County that the people of California do not want an environmentally dangerous factory farm on the North Coast. Signing this petition will send a public comment to the North Coast Water Board and Humboldt County.
Stand for Water Justice, Provide Water to Stop Salmon Fish Kills
This year California is facing a drought, and the collapse of the salmon runs on the Klamath and Sacramento/San Francisco Bay Delta watersheds. This means Native People's food and cultures are threatened, along with coastal fishing economies due to low salmon allocations. It also means many runs of California's salmon are facing extinction.
Along with having to deal with poor salmon returns and the threat of salmon extinction, California's drought threatens California’s rivers and drinking water supplies and river flows that are key to the survival of the salmon. The situation is especially scary as the federal Trump water plan, which is still in effect, prioritizes corporate agriculture water deliveries above all else.
California could demand more water than the Trump Water plan calls for, however California had a drought, the state government prioritized industrial agriculture such as almonds, which are mainly exported, over Native people, fishermen, and even cities. This poor prioritization led to low flows, causing the killing of up to 98% of the juvenile salmon in California's major salmon rivers, the Sacramento and Klamath. It also led to poor water quality in cities drinking water supplies.
The government prioritizing corporate water brokers and export-based agriculture during the last drought threatened millions of Californians in cities, along with the Native people and fishermen that rely on the salmon.
We can not let California and the federal government kill our salmon again. Salmon extinction is cultural genocide for native people.
Army Corps of Engineers: Save Our Rivers, Do Not Permit the Delta Tunnel
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District has initiated a new public comment period for the permitting process of the Delta Tunnel Conveyance Project. Scoping comments on this federal 404 permit are due by October 20th, 2020. Signing this petition counts as a comment. There will be no public hearings on this permit.
The Delta Tunnel would divert an additional 6000 cubic feet-per-second (cfs) from the Bay Delta estuary. The water would come from the Trinity, McCloud, Sacramento Rivers and other Bay Delta tributaries, and would be diverted south for the benefit of Southern California Water Brokers and industrial agriculture. This would increase pressure to divert water from Northern California rivers such as the Trinity River.
If a tunnel is constructed and operated, water quality and quantity in the Bay-Delta will deteriorate and the ecosystem will collapse. The project would divert up to two-thirds of fresh water flowing into the Delta from the Sacramento River. Some of these freshwater flows come from the Trinity River, which would impact the Klamath River temperatures and water quality. Fresh water flows are critical for sustaining the habitat for hundreds of fish and wildlife species, as well as stopping salt water intrusion from the Bay and flushing out the hundreds of thousands of tons of pollutants and salts that accumulate in the Delta annually.
In March 2020, over 200 people, including members from at least 7 Tribes, attended California’s Delta Tunnel hearing in Redding and testified as to why the Delta Tunnel and associated Sites Reservoir would be detrimental to North Coast rivers and Native communities. These efforts were led by water protectors from Hoopa Valley High School.
NOW CALIFORNIA IS WORKING WITH THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO GET A FEDERAL CLEAN WATER ACT PERMIT FOR THIS TERRIBLE PROJECT WHILE TRIBAL COMMUNITIES AND OTHER RURAL PEOPLE CANNOT PARTICIPATE DUE TO COVID-19.
People from all across California are concerned about what the Delta Tunnel will mean, from increased water bills in L.A, to health impacts from tunnel construction and diminished water quality in Stockton, to fish kills and lack of salmon fisheries in Del Norte. Delta Tribes have expressed opposition due to the desecration of cultural sites from the construction of the tunnels, and at least four fishing organizations and many social justice and environmental groups have also testified against the Delta Tunnel.
Despite this, the Delta Tunnel currently remains a top priority in Governor Newsom’s Water Portfolio and he is working with the Trump administration to push it forward during COVID-19 while the public can not participate in public processes.
It’s time to tell the Army Corps and the state of California: Prioritize people, salmon, and healthy rivers over corporate agricultural interests. No Delta Tunnel!
They are particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the Corps' project manager Zachary Simmons, by phone at (916) 557-6746, or by email at Zachary.M.Simmons@usace.army.mil.
TELL WARREN BUFFETT TO MOVE FORWARD WITH KLAMATH DAM REMOVAL AGREEMENT
On July 16 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made the decision to allow a partial transfer of the lower 4 Klamath River dams to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation for the purpose of dam removal.
FERC conditioned that PacifiCorp, a company owned by Billionaire Warren Buffett, remained a co-licensee. PacifiCorp now says that FERC’s decision denies its customers the protections it negotiated, and they want to renegotiate, despite having already collected $200 million from their ratepayers and $250 million from California taxpayers for the purpose of dam removal. The Agreement already shields PacifiCorp from risks and liabilities associated with dam removal, making the Agreement already in PacifiCorp’s best financial interests.
Buffett’s PacifiCorp is threatening to back out of the dam removal agreement. This goes back on two decades of negotiations and betrays the trust of their partners, who include many Tribal nations and Klamath River communities. Threatening to walk out on Klamath River and coastal communities is not the behavior of a socially responsible company. It’s time for PacifiCorp to recommit to dam removal.
With every year that passes, Klamath River salmon edge closer to extinction. We can’t afford any more delays in this process. It’s time for Warren Buffett’s PacifiCorp to do the right thing and allow this dam removal agreement to move forward.
SIGN THIS PETITION TO SUPPORT THE MOST AMBITIOUS SALMON RESTORATION PROJECT IN THE WORLD AND TELL WARREN BUFFETT TO RECOMMIT TO DAM REMOVAL!
Most experts view dam removal as the lynchpin for solving the water crisis that plagues the drought-prone Klamath Basin almost every year. Shallow, stagnant reservoirs breed toxic algae and decimate water quality, pushing Klamath River salmon to the brink of extinction. Decades worth of spawning gravel has accumulated behind the dams, preventing proper habitat conditions downstream, and anadromous species that historically migrated to the upper basin have lost access to over 420 miles of spawning grounds and habitat. Upriver Tribes like the Klamath Tribes of Oregon have not had access to salmon in over 100 years. A lack of salmon and clean water directly contributes to ongoing health issues in the region, including high rates of diabetes and heart disease. Dwindling salmon populations make it so that fishermen and communities cannot subsist from salmon fisheries, contributing to poverty and a loss of livelihood in Oregon and California.
The dams provide no irrigation diversions, no drinking water diversions, and no significant flood control benefit. California and Oregon have already approved dam removal permits. The money to remove the dams has already been raised by ratepayers and taxpayers. On July 29th 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom sent a letter to Warren Buffet, urging Berkshire Hathaway and its subsidiary, PacifiCorp, to move forward with dam removal. Financially, dam removal is cheaper than retrofitting improvements in the form of fish ladders. Relicensing the dams is risky and expensive- managing the aging structures today costs more than they’re worth.
IT’S BEEN 20 YEARS, NO MORE DELAYS! IT IS TIME TO UNDAM THE KLAMATH!
No Tunnel Planning During the COVID-19 Crisis. We Can't Fight for Our Lives and Our Water
In California, while Tribal communities are sheltering in place, non-essential infrastructure decisions that would take more water from our rivers and waterways are moving forward, without our participation. This is unacceptable.
Please help us to ask the Department of Water Resources to delay public processes related to the Delta conveyance and other new large diversions until the public can engage. Our communities literally are fighting for our lives. We should not have to also fight for our water and salmon.
Most of us can not attend virtual meetings. Many of California's Tribal communities are rural and lack assess to fast internet and power (along with medical facilities and grocery stores). Many of the Tribal and county representatives that would make sure our voices are heard are dealing with the COVID-19 emergency.
Our communities want to engage and are deeply impact by these decisions. We rely on the impacted rivers for our food, health, and clean water. Over 200 people from at least seven Tribes testified against the Delta Conveyance during the Northern California hearing and many people from disadvantaged and rural communities that deal with illnesses caused by environmental conditions, and that lack of clean water, testified at the Delta Tunnel hearings in Redding and Stockton.
Our communities are also disproportionately at risk of serious health impacts and death from COVID-19 due to the serious health conditions caused by the lack of fish in Native peoples’ diets, such as diabetes and heart disease, and due to the lack of health resources in coastal and rural communities. We are heavily reliant on commercial fishing and recreational industries and therefore have economic interests that are directly related to California storage and diversions decisions.
Commercial salmon fishermen were barely getting by before the pandemic due to poor water decisions and many have had to give up fishing all together due to poor water management. Up to 90% of California’s salmon fishing fleet has been lost over the last twenty years due to dwindling returns. This has caused serious economic impacts to our communities, and loss of tax revenue to coastal communities and towns.
Public participation from communities that rely on subsistence fishing, access to clean water, and fishing related economic opportunities are critical to these processes. Not only are impacted communities scared and distracted during this crisis, we lack the resources to engage virtually or are first responders and government employees who are overwhelmed with essential duties that are critical to public safety during the pandemic.
Right now the vast majority of the California public is focused on surviving and coping with the health and economic effects of the spread of COVID-19. We cannot keep our communities safe and meaningfully engage in public processes related to our salmon returns and water supplies at the same time. Actions such as approving new diversions and major infrastructure projects during a pandemic are non-essential and should therefore be curtailed.
Please tell the Department of Water Rights to allow us to focus on saving our lives and communities. We can not afford to lose our water and salmon during a pandemic.
Governor Newsom: Water is Life, No Delta Tunnel
California’s salmon rivers are at a crisis point. A recent report stated over 45% of California’s fisheries are facing extinction within 50 years. The Klamath River spring chinook and coho salmon are currently facing extinction, and the Sacramento River/ Bay Delta winter run salmon, Spring Salmon, delta smelt, and green sturgeon are all imperiled. Loss of habitat, low river flows and poor water quality are the main issues impacting the fish in both watersheds. The Trinity River, the Klamath’s largest tributary, has been dammed and diverted to the Sacramento River, and is delivered to Central Valley Project contractors such as the Westlands Water District. The Bay Delta, Sacramento River and Klamath-Trinity River salmon declines are connected to overallocation of water to the Central Valley Project and State Water Project.
This situation has been made much worse by bad water management during recent droughts and ocean impacts from climate change. Even fish that are not endangered such as the Klamath and Trinity River fall run Chinook are facing rapidly dwindling numbers, which means that members of California’s three largest Tribes, the Yurok, Hoopa Valley, and Karuk Tribes do not have access to an essential food source. Most Delta and Sacramento River Tribes have not had access to salmon for many decades.
Commercial fishing and coastal communities are also suffering from the economic impacts from loss of salmon. This year only 47,261 salmon returned to the Klamath and Trinity Rivers out of the 97,912 that were predicted. This severely impacted people in Northern California and Southern Oregon. All available science points to the fact that floodplain and estuary restoration, access to cold water habitat and improved flows will be essential if salmon are to survive climate change in California.
Now the state of California is taking public comments on the plan to build a new 7000 cfs diversions that would be feed by California's most important salmon River. At public hearings on the Delta tunnel proposal hundred of people from at least eight Tribes, four fishing organizations and many social justice and environmental groups testified against this proposal. Concerns came from all over the state and ranged from concerns about increased water bills from L.A. to concerns about possible fish kills from diversions and lack of salmon fishing seasons in Del Norte County. Delta Tribes also expressed opposition due to the desecration of cultural sites from the construction of the tunnels and residents of Stockton, California said they will have to deal with the health impacts from tunnel construction and diminished water quality.
Luckily the people of California do not need this tunnel. Californians are saving water and support conservation to save the environment. Unfortunately, large water brokers and corporate agriculture interests, such as the Westlands Water District, know there is money to be made from water. In 2017 Donald Trump appointed a Westlands Water District lobbyist, David Bernhardt to head the Department of Interior, and he has created several new plans and rules that would harm California’s salmon. California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom has also prioritized water deliveries over the environment thus far, but did recently challenge one of these plans in court.
Currently proposed state and federal processes threaten California’s rivers include;
The Trump Water Plan for Long Term Operations of the Central Valley Project,
Shasta Dam Enlargement,
The Long Term Operations of the State Water Project,
The Proposed Sites Reservoir,
The Twin Tunnels proposal, which is now the One Tunnel,
The Westlands Water District and other CVP water district permanent water contracts,
The Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio. This document lays out the Governor’s water priorities and the one tunnel proposal and Sites Reservoir are top priorities in the document.
These projects are all connected as the Sites Reservoir project and its new diversions, the Trump water plan, and the Long Term Operations of the State Water Project would allow more water to be diverted and stored from the Trinity and Sacramento River systems and Bay Delta, and the tunnel would allow this water to be moved south. The Governor’s water portfolio and Trump actions make sure all of these new reservoirs and diversions are prioritized on the state and federal level above salmon and communities.
Save Our Salmon, No New Massive Diversions and Reservoirs in Northern California
In early January, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom released his highly anticipated California Water Portfolio. Even though the portfolio discusses prioritizing restoration and water savings, it also prioritizes the three most controversial and environmentally destructive threats to California’s rivers; the Delta Tunnel project; The Sites reservoir project; and voluntary agreements for agriculture.
The portfolio even suggests accelerating environmental permitting for new the Sites Reservoir and diversions, despite the fact that fisheries in the areas targeted are facing extinctions and agencies have warned of potentially devastating fisheries impacts. Only two of the “listening sessions” for these meetings happened north of Sacramento and no hearings happened in Northwest or Northeast California, from which much of the water the state uses is diverted. Most California Tribes and counties of origin were not consulted on the portfolio.
Less than a week after the release of the plan, the state opened the comment period for the new “Delta Conveyance Project” or Delta Tunnel (formally the Twin Tunnels) diversion proposal, showing that the Governor does not care what the people of California have to say about his portfolio. The one tunnel project is a proposal to build a massive new water diversion in the Northern Bay Delta near where the Sacramento River enters. This is where the Delta’s water is the cleanest and it is an extremely important area to endangered and subsistence salmon and smelt species.
The governor has also not followed through with his promise to sue the Trump administration for their new water plan and biological opinion. These Trump plans will most likely force many of California’s salmon species into extinction and decimate the fishing industry. California released a state alternative to this plan that also threatens California’s fisheries and drinking water quality by diverting more water. The state again failed to value public opinion by only holding one daytime hearing in Sacramento on this water plan.
The governor’s water portfolio supports spending taxpayer money on new privately owned reservoirs and canals, and water transfers that would mainly benefit large agricultural corporations and water brokers, such as Westlands Water District. This is despite the fact that the state has already committed over a billion dollars of tax paper money to building new privately owned reservoirs and new freshwater diversions.
Make no mistake this Portfolio and new massive One Tunnel diversion are modern day water grabs and are in line with the Trump administration’s attack on California’s environment.
Orwellian language cannot save the salmon or our drinking water supplies. The governor is selling out the north state, the fishing industry, tribes, cities, and the environment to benefit wasteful agricultural water users.
Help us fight the water Portfolio, State Water Plan, Delta Tunnel Proposal and Sites Reservoir.
Water Is Life!
Comments on the Water Portfolio can go to: Nancy Vogel, Director, Governor’s Water Portfolio Program, California Natural Resources Agency 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 9581Or email@example.com
Delta Tunnel comments can go to: DeltaConveyanceScoping@water.ca.gov or, Delta Conveyance Scoping Comments, Attn: Renee Rodriguez, Department of Water Resources, P.O. Box 942836, Sacramento, CA 94236
Newsom: Support Tribes, Cities, and Fish: Fight Trump Water Plan and Westlands' Contract
Last month Governor Newson issued proclamation declaring October 14, 2019, as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in the State of California. In this proclamation he acknowledged that native people were stewards of land before the conquest of California.
We thank the governor for the proclamation, however last month on California Native American Day the governor also vetoed legislation (SB 1) that could have helped the state protect our salmon from Trump’s environmental rollbacks. This is unacceptable.
We need more than lip serve from the governor. We need action. We need the Governor to protect California's Tribes, Cities and Fishermen.
We need California to Fight the Trump Water Plan and the proposed permanent contract for the Westlands Water District.
Last month, the Trump administration released the new Biological Opinion for Long Term Operations for the Central Valley Water Project. This fisheries review replaces an earlier one that concluded Trump’s Water Plan to maximize water deliveries for Central Valley agriculture jeopardizes every ESA listed fish species in the Delta and San Joaquin and Sacramento River systems. In a true Orwellian fashion the new review claims fish do not need water.
Now the head of Interior David Bernhardt has offered a sweetheart permanent water contract to ex-clients Westlands Water District. This contract would sacrifice salmon, cities water supply and Tribal Water Rights so Westlands could continue to grow almonds in selenium impaired poisoned lands in the desert.
For California’s Tribes water and salmon are life. For California's Fishermen and coastal towns salmon are their livelihood. For most of the state these threatened rivers feed their drinking water supply.
As the LA Times just pointed out "The contest is not farms versus fish. It is money versus people, political clout versus the powerless, the haves versus the have-nots.”
The Trump plan would harm the state’s drinking water supply and salmon as it negatively impacts the Sacramento, McCloud, San Joaquin, Yuba, American, and Feather Rivers through increasing water deliveries to large agriculture interests by 23%-39%. This leaves less water for people and fish. It also impacts the Klamath River through Trinity River diversions. The description of the plan says it all:
“This EIS evaluates alternatives to maximize water supply deliveries and optimize marketable power generation”.
California needs to change course on water. Even without the new water operation plan California has been facing a crisis. Nearly half of our fish are in danger of going extinct and the state has predicted that if something does not change that Central Valley’s water will be unusable within fifty years due to pollution and diversions. This year the Klamath salmon simply did not show up. These salmon are a major food source to the state’s three largest Tribes, which live in extremely rural areas.
California's once-abundant salmon have been devastated by dams and diversions. Salmon runs that once numbered in the millions and nourished Native peoples and coastal economies now return each year in the hundreds or less. We are on the brink of losing the salmon. This loss would have widespread health, economic and cultural impacts. Already some of California’s native communities have a suicide rates that are 12 times the national average and diabetes and heart disease rates that are over 3 times the national average. Studies have linked these health issues directly to the loss of salmon in native diets. Coastal cities that once thrived due to the fishing industry now deal with the state's highest unemployment and drug abuse rates.
No statistics can express what losing the salmon has done to Tribal cultures and the well being as our communities. Unlike many other salmon states, very few of California’s Tribes have established rights to a harvestable surplus of salmon and a land base and no California Tribes are actually able to catch a harvestable surplus of salmon. Many do not even have clean water either due to policies that favor irrigators and polluters. In fact many experts have called the sudden loss of salmon to California native communities cultural genocide. Despite this, decisions that impact native Communities occur many many hours from where people live and fish dependent people are often not involved in decisions and Tribal water and fishing rights are not respected. It is hypocritical that the states like California and cities like San Francisco honor Native people while fighting needed salmon restoration.
We can do better. California's people are willing to save water and make the changes that help right some historical wrongs. There are examples of cities and the states making choices to support native people. This year Attorney General Becerra litigated against Westlands Water District's ability to raise the Shasta dam because it violated state law by flooding wild and scenic river. The dam raise would also flood one of the last sacred sites that is still used by the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The rest are under the Shasta Reservoir. Earlier this week a small rural city in California, Eureka returned a sacred site that was taken after a massacre to the Wiyot People in a well attended ceremony. Last year the city of San Francisco passed a resolution to support flow restoration for the Bay Delta to support salmon that the major later vetoed.
We need more than lip service to California’s Tribal people. We need California to stand up to large corporations, including agribusiness, and to protect our water and declining salmon populations. Governor Newsom campaigned on fighting the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks. We need him to keep his promise
Governor Newsom’s veto of SB 1 was extremely disappointing, but he has a golden opportunity now to redeem himself by litigating against this latest assault on California’s environment and by supporting Tribes’ actions to protect water and regain land.
BOR: Increase Klamath River flows, and do an EIS for Water Plan
On March 6th, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) issued a public Environmental Assessment on the Operations Plan for the Klamath Irrigation. Project Operations controls flows in the Klamath River below Upper Klamath Lake. The outcome may determine whether ESA listed coho salmon and Lost River suckers will survive another generation and how many chinook salmon people have for harvest. Despite the importance of the decision, BOR is only allowing the public two weeks to comment.
The Biological Assessment will lead to a Biological Opinion or Bi-Op, which will control flows the Klamath River. The plan is a significant federal action and BOR should complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that analyzes the impacts of the proposed flows to the Klamath River fisheries, water quality, economy and people, along with impacts to the coast communities that depend on the Klamath’s fishery.
This EIS should include a 90 day public comment period and public hearings.
The Klamath Biological Opinion may sound familiar because the Bush administration’s tampering with the 2001 Klamath Project Biological Opinion lead to a massive fish kill of an estimated 64,000 adult salmon in the Klamath River, and the 2013 Biological Opinion lead to a juvenile fish disease rate of 84-92% during t during California’s recent drought. This fish disease C. shasta caused massive juvenile fish kills, contributing to the Klamath’s lowest recorded salmon run in 2017.
These fish kills and related low salmon runs have caused major impacts to coastal and Tribal communities due to commercial and subsistence salmon fishing closures. In 2017 Yurok Tribal members were allocated only 1 fish for every 6 Tribal members. Karuk limited its dip net fishery for the first time in history to 200 fish, and commercial, subsistence, and recreational fishing was severely limited for others as well. Lack of salmon has also led to major health, social and economic hardships for Tribal people and coastal towns such as Eureka and Crescent City, and Brookings that rely on salmon for food, income, ceremonies, and culture. It has also disrupted the food web that relies on salmon.
The 2013 Biological Opinion was litigated by the Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribes along with Commercial fishermen and conservation groups. These lawsuits resulted in court ordered improvements in flows. The currently proposed BOR flow schedule that are the subject of this Environmental Assessment would result in lower flows and higher risk of fish disease.
The BOR should do an Environmental Impact Statement on the water plan analyzing all the impacts to all the Klamath River fisheries and water quality impacts from their action,
The BOR should include the court ordered flushing flows to combat fish disease in their Environmental Water Accounting for all water year types,
The BOR should not only not jeopardize endangered species, but also provide enough water to protect tribal trust species and fishing rights, the public trust, and the Clean Water Act. This means they need to provide for a harvestable surplus of all species of salmon,
The BOR should analyze the economic and social impacts to river and coastal communities resulting from their actions,
The BOR should analyze the cumulative impacts of their actions with other state and federal impacts such as flow decisions in the Klamath tributaries, the proposed LNG pipeline in the Upper Klamath Basin, along with the new dam and diversion projects, and the Trump Water Plan, that impact the Trinity River,
The BOR should include an emergency flow plan to respond to massive fish disease outbreaks of the C. shasta fish disease
The BOR should clearly account for, and detail, the water provided to farmers and the Environment Water Accounting, and not use confusing water budgeting and accounting.
It is time for the BOR and Trump administration to Restore the Klamath Salmon and Suckers and support all the communities that rely on Klamath watershed.
Comments must be received by March 19, 2019. The comments may be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by hard copy to Tara Jane Campbell Miranda, Bureau of Reclamation, 6600 Washburn Way, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97603.
California: Approve the Klamath Dam Removal 401 Permit
After a 15 year campaign by Tribes, fishermen, environmentalist, and local residents to restore the Klamath River salmon, the Klamath dams are set to come down. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is processing a dam removal license, Oregon has issued a dam removal permit and California is taking comments on their dam removal 401 permit.
Meeting times and locations to comment in person are: Feb. 5th Yreka, Ca Best Western Miners Inn 5pm, Feb. 6th 5pm D street Community Center, Arcata, CA, Feb. 7th 12 pm Karuk Tribe Council Chambers Orleans, CA, Feb. 15th 1pm CalEPA Building Sierra Meeting Room Sacramento, CA.
The lower four Klamath River dams block hundreds of miles of historic salmon spawning grounds while creating conditions that cause fish disease and parasites in the river. The dams’ reservoirs host massive blooms of toxic algae each year, posing health risks to people and pets using the river. The dams are a leading cause of salmon declines in the Klamath Basin. The Water Board’s draft EIR supports what dam removal advocates have said all along—dam removal helps alleviate these conditions.
The North Coast and Klamath River communities are economically depressed, and much of the area is classified as a food desert. The loss of salmon has widespread health, economic and cultural impacts. In many years there are extremely few, or no, salmon for Tribal people. This has created a situation where the Klamath's native communities have suicide rates that are 12 times the national average and diabetes and heart disease rates that are over three times the national average. Bringing back the salmon will help right this wrong while providing local jobs.
California's draft EIR looks at potential impacts associated with the removal of the lower four Klamath River Dams as compared to a no project alternative, partial dam removal, construction of fish ladders, removal of only three dams, and removal of only two dams. In the end, the Water Board staff finds that, “In looking at the range of benefits and impacts the State Water Board has identified the Proposed Project as the environmentally superior alternative.”
This is why Warren Buffet's Pacific Power has transferred four of the Klamath River dams to a dam removal entity which is applying for permits and a license to decommission the dams. This current process is different to the former (and controversial) settlement process and Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA), which included a water settlement. This new dam removal process restarted both federal and California public processes, as the FERC license application one was for relicensing, not removal.
PLEASE SUPPORT CALIFORNIA'S DAM REMOVAL PERMIT by signing this petition and coming out to a dam removal hearing.
Key Talking Points:
• Dam removal improves water quality. This includes getting rid of the blue green algae blooms and fish disease problems below the dams.
• Sediment impacts will be temporary while the long-term benefits are stronger runs of salmon and better water quality.
• Dam removal will not affect irrigated agriculture: none of the dams we are removing provide agricultural diversions.
• Dam removal will not affect summer river flow – that’s controlled further upstream by BOR Irrigation Project.
• Power rates will be lower with dam removal. Keeping the dams and doing necessary repairs and building fish ladders costs more than the electricity is worth.
No Shasta Dam Raise: Protect Sacred Sites and California Salmon
When the Shasta Dam was built, the Pit River and Winnemem Wintu tribes lost their salmon and the Sacramento River salmon lost much of their spawning grounds.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe also lost ceremonial sites, their land base, and even their federal tribal recognition. The Winnemem Wintu and Pit River Tribes have now not had salmon for over 80 years. This has led to major health and social issues including enormous spikes in alcoholism, heart disease, diabetes, and suicide and has impacted native ceremonies and identity. The Tribes are working to bring their salmon home through fish passage and flow plans, but the proposal to raise the dam threatens fish passage, habitat, flows, and ceremonial sites.
The state’s most powerful water district, Westlands Water District, and the Trump administration plan to raise the Shasta Dam by up to 18 feet, which would inundate remaining Winnemem Wintu ceremonial sites and a wild and scenic river. It could also hurt plans to reintroduce salmon to the McCloud and Upper Sacramento Rivers and to restore flows in the Sacramento River.
This plan would cost $1.3 billion dollars but would only increase water deliveries by an estimated 51,300 acre-feet. That is less than 1/10th of 1 percent of California’s annual water budget. Most of this water would go toward irrigating poisoned Westland Water District’s lands in the arid Western San Joaquin Valley. These contaminated lands’ selenium and pesticide laden wastewater is drained into aquifers of the San Joaquin River, which supplies drinking water for 25 million Californians. This massive pollution has led to calls for agricultural land retirement in this desert region. The new inundation of uncapped mines and mine tailings could also contaminate salmon habitat and drinking water with toxic chemicals like mercury and cadmium.
This plan threatens Tribes living along the Sacramento River and the Trinity River, fishermen, and the state’s plans to restore salmon on the Sacramento River, along with the state’s drinking water supply.
The dam raise will reward rich corporate interests, while condemning California’s salmon and endangering people. We have to stop it.
Don’t let Westlands and Trump flood ceremonial sites and endangered California’s salmon. Sign our petition opposing the dam raise.
Easter Lilies are Poisoning Salmon/People on Smith River: Boycott and Ask for an Ag Permit
The Smith River in Northern California is the state’s wildest river, and it’s the only completely undammed watershed in the state. Salmon should be thriving in the Smith, however unregulated Easter lily farming is poisoning the Smith River estuary and harming protected salmon species. The pesticides are also causing health issues in the Smith River community, which has the highest rates of mortality due to heart disease, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease in the state. Smith River Easter lily bulbs are sold throughout the country as part of Easter celebrations. We ask that the public boycott non-organic Easter lilies until their chemical pollution is regulated.
The Smith River estuary provides essential habitat for salmon. However, Smith River Estuary lily bulb famers apply an annual average of 300,000 pounds of highly toxic pesticides on some 1,000 acres of lily fields that drain directly into the Smith River estuary every year. This concentration of pesticide use is as high or higher than anywhere else in the state, and almost all of it occurs in along salmon streams. Water testing by the state has turned up 10 instances of contamination within the salmon food chain, and 17 pesticides in surface waters. Recently the domestic water supply for the town of Smith River turned up a chemical that has been banned in California.
The Smith River estuary is a critically component of the California-Oregon salmon ecosystem. It is especially important due to its close proximity to the Klamath River, which is currently suffering from the worst salmon returns in recorded history. The Smith River lies at the heart of the federally recognized evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) for Southern Oregon-Northern California Coho salmon, an endangered species that biologists warn is headed for extinction. The Smith River is also the home of the Tolowa Tribe, which relies on it’s fisheries.
Despite years of documented water quality violations and over 20 years of complaints of pollution of wells and surface water, estuary farmers face no regulation from the state agencies charged by the federal government to protect endangered species and clean water.
For years, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has assured the public that an Agricultural Waiver is being drafted for the lily bulb farmers, and for 20 years Board officials have promised to take action to regulate the Smith River lily bulb farms. Yet no progress has been, made and the public was were recently told that these efforts have been put on the back burner indefinitely.
We are not asking for the end to lily bulb farming, only that the same common sense regulations that apply to the rest of the state apply to the Smith River. It is time that the water board regulates toxins, and protect salmon and human health in the Smith River estuary.
Photo: Town of Smith River outlined in yellow. Red dots depict Easter lily fields. Blue line is Rowdy Creek. Arrow points to Smith River Elementary School, which is virtually always downwind of pesticide spraying.
Stop Sites: Don't Drain NorCal Rivers for A Private Reservoir
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.
FERC/PG&E: Un-Dam the Eel River, Bring the Salmon Home
It is time to Un-Dam the Eel River
Two dams owned by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) on the Eel River, the Scott Dam and the Cape Horn, known collectively as the Potter Valley Project, are currently up for relicensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC project number P-77-001). This is a process that only happens every 50 years and this is the second relicensing for these dams, which produce only nine megawatts (about 3 windmills worth) of power. Both public scoping hearings to receive public comments on the dams relicensing have happened out of basin and in non-fishing communities.
The Eel River is the third largest salmon-bearing river in California and once hosted up to 800,000 salmon a year, which supported the commercial fishing industry and Tribal subsistence fishing for the Wiyot, Round Valley, Bear River, Sherwood Valley, and other Tribes. Now fish numbers are about 1% of historical levels and subsistence, commercial and sport fishing opportunities have been strictly curtailed.
The Scott Dam blocks fish passage to between 55-89 miles of habitat for Chinook Salmon and198-288 miles of habitat for steelhead. This dam is very old, has no spillway and presents a safety risk for downstream users. It also creates toxic algae, warms water, and creates many other water quality impacts. The Cape Horn Dam diverts large amounts of water to the Russian River and is is also part of this project.
The dams on the Eel River are not the only issue impacting salmon in this rural watershed, however their removal would be a major step in restoring the Eel River fishery, and making sure Eel River salmon and trout survive the impacts of climate change.
PG&E also uses dangerous chemicals to maintain vegetation around the dams on the Eel River.