Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lawmakers urge no cuts in Shasta releases

Northern California's Rep. Doug LaMalfa is among 15 California lawmakers urging federal agencies not to cut releases from Shasta Lake to leave water for winter-run salmon because it would mean further cuts in water supplies for farmers. From LaMalfa:
Congressman Doug LaMalfa and 14 other members of the California delegation in the House today urged the Obama administration to reject proposals from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), which would drastically cut Californians’ access to water stored in Lake Shasta. The proposals would negatively impact Californians around the state, including in the Sacramento Valley. “Despite our first wet winter in years, misguided federal agencies threaten to cut off the water supplies of millions of Californians. Federal agencies are simultaneously demanding that more water be released from Lake Shasta, but not for human use, and that more water be kept in Lake Shasta, but not for human use,” LaMalfa said. “Neither demand is backed by science, and the only common theme is that both give Californians the short end of the stick.” Despite having concurred with the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) 2016 Shasta Reservoir operations plan, NMFS proposes cutting releases from Shasta by 20% to retain water for environmental use later in the year. At the same time, FWS proposes drastically increasing Shasta releases in order to aid the Delta smelt, with a potential cost to taxpayers in the hundreds of millions of dollars. If these proposals are implemented, barely one-quarter of the 4.1 million acre feet of water stored in Lake Shasta, California’s largest reservoir, would be available to Californians, and crops which have already been planted would die for lack of water. Much of the remaining water stored in the reservoir would be released in efforts to aid Delta smelt or used to provide habitat for winter-run chinook salmon later this year.
Video of LaMalfa's comments on the House floor can be found here. The letter is here. The California Farm Bureau Federation has more information on the issue here. We'll be checking with resource agencies to find out their plans. Check soon.

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