From News Line, a daily compilation of farm water news distributed to CFWC members and others upon request. To receive News Line, click here.

Editorial: If irrigators win, and salmon die, it will cost dearly

Coalition response…The lawsuit filed by the water users seeks the Bureau of Reclamation to follow already established procedures relating to the proposed release of water down the Trinity River. Water is set aside each year by the Trinity River Diversion Record of Decision that is specifically designated for fish and the environment. Reclamation knew earlier this year that a large number of returning salmon were likely to swim up the Klamath River and could have preserved the needed water. But that water was used for other purposes and now Reclamation seeks to take water from others whose supply has already been cut 80 percent.

In 1988, under nearly identical flow conditions, twice as many salmon successfully migrated up the Klamath River than in 2002 with no die-off. In every other year that no supplemental water was provided, no fish die-off occurred. In the three prior occasions when supplemental flows were provided, no monitoring or analysis was conducted to determine whether the additional water provided any demonstrable benefit. The fact is, no one knows what caused the die-off in 2002 or why that terrible incident has never been repeated despite wide ranging flow and fish abundance conditions. And it is impossible at this time to say for certain whether or not such a similar event will occur again this year.

This conflict is not about fish versus farms, there was water set aside for both.

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