A federal judge has dismissed portions of a yearslong lawsuit brought by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians against the Coachella Valley’s local water districts, ruling against the tribe’s attempt to quantify its rights to groundwater. The judge ruled Friday that the tribe’s access to water has not been sufficiently harmed to adjudicate the matter.
Here’s what we know. The lower Klamath dams and reservoirs do not provide multipurpose water storage, flood protection, or irreplaceable energy. What they do provide are major barriers to fish migration, toxic blue-green algae and fish disease (C. shasta). The dwindling fish populations are proof. We must move forward with removing the dams and restoring the Klamath to the free-flowing river it once was.
California’s inability to compromise and work together has put a big question mark on the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan. And that directly impacts Arizona’s ability to proactively plan for our new, drier water future.
Congressman Jared Huffman says the Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee, which he chairs in the U.S. House of Representatives, is finally getting to do things “we weren’t allowed to do” for the past six years when Republicans controlled the House. Things like protecting public lands, making climate change part of all environmental programs, trying to prevent offshore drilling and looking at the state of the nation’s wildlife and fisheries.
The Colorado River Sustainability Campaign has been an important behind-the-scenes player for environmentalists working on the waterway, which provides water to 40 million people. … When asked who funds his project, Sam Tucker listed five foundations. Those foundations’ grant databases showed that his campaign has received at least $8.6 million since 2016. … Almost half — $4 million — of the campaign’s money came from one source: the Walton Family Foundation. (Second of two parts.)
Arizona’s top water official says a lawsuit filed Tuesday by California’s Imperial Irrigation District could pose a threat to the newly approved multistate drought contingency plan. But Tom Buschatzke, director of the Department of Water Resources, said he’s not worried the plan will fall apart — at least not yet.
The petition, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges violations of the California Environmental Quality Act by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and names the Coachella Valley, Palo Verde and Needles water districts as well. It asks the court to suspend the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan until a thorough environmental analysis has been completed.
There are at least six high-profile projects in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming that combined could divert more than 300,000 acre-feet of water from the beleaguered Colorado River. That’s the equivalent of Nevada’s entire allocation from the river. These projects are in different stages of permitting and funding, but are moving ahead even as headlines about the river’s dwindling supply dominate the news.
An unlikely advocate seems to be around every bend of the Colorado River these days: the Walton Family Foundation. The $3.65 billion organization launched by Walmart founder Sam Walton has become ubiquitous in the seven-state basin that provides water to 40 million people, dishing out $100 million in grants in the last five years alone. … The foundation’s reach is dizzying and, outside the basin, has received scant attention. (First of two parts.)
Wade Crowfoot, California’s new Natural Resources Secretary, recently delivered a keynote address at Los Angeles Business Council’s annual Sustainability Summit. He focused on the economic, social and environmental challenges the state and localities are addressing in response to a new climate normal; on prioritizing new wildfire and water supply & stormwater policies; and, commended the city of Los Angeles for its ambitious climate actions.
A new study released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts a release of up to 9 million acre-feet of water from Lake Powell to Lake Mead this year, which means a possible shortage declaration looming in 2020 might be averted. The snowpack in the Colorado River Basin is about 130 percent of average, with flows into Lake Powell predicted to be 128 percent of average during the runoff season.
President Donald Trump signed a bill Tuesday authorizing a plan for Western states to take less water from the overburdened Colorado River. The president’s signing capped a years-long process of sometimes difficult negotiations among the seven states that rely on the river. … Next, representatives from Arizona and the other Colorado River basin states who had a hand in crafting the deal are expected to meet for a formal signing ceremony.
Daryl Vigil, water administrator at Jicarilla Apache Nation, who worked on the study, said it’s relatively new for local and federal lawmakers to include tribes in national water policy conversations. “That conversation and that opportunity wasn’t available before,” Vigil said. “But now with the conclusion of this DCP and the inclusion of tribes in that dialogue, I think that sets the stage for that to happen.”
On the northern tip of California … Calpine Corporation won a U.S. government contract in 1982 to explore geothermal energy on 2,560 acres of national forest in the Medicine Lake Highlands of Siskiyou County. Now some 37 years later, members of the Pit River Tribe claim the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has allowed Calpine to squat on their sacred land for decades, even as the company fails to meet lease renewal requirements by making “diligent efforts” to produce geothermal power.
Here’s something worth celebrating: In a rare bipartisan resolve to prevent a water crisis in the Southwest, Congress has authorized a plan to reduce consumption from the Colorado River – a major conservation milestone. It shows that when we work together as Americans, we can address some of the biggest challenges facing our nation today.
Bernhardt has a roster to fill, with gaping vacancies in key positions. He’s got, by his own account, a departmental ethics program to fix and an ambitious reorganization scheme that critics decry or simply dismiss. He’ll have to cope with a multibillion-dollar national parks maintenance backlog and thread the needle with an offshore drilling plan. And as he’s already discovered during his short stint as acting secretary, he faces opposition from Democratic lawmakers in control of the House.
Environmental groups have dropped their opposition to a bill they had originally blasted as a way for the state to green-light a controversial plan to pipe water from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas after the bill was amended last week. … But AB30 was altered significantly enough on Wednesday to allow those groups to feel comfortable enough to now say they are neutral on the bill.
Congress passed an historic Colorado River drought deal on Monday, which is now on its way to President Trump’s desk for his signature. That leaves Arizona back to wrestling with water issues that it mostly set aside during the two years it fixated on the negotiations for the Colorado River deal.
David Bernhardt, President Trump’s pick to the lead the Interior Department, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday amid persistent ethical concerns and doubts about his independence from the energy and water industry groups he long represented as a lobbyist.
Lawmakers on Wednesday moved an amended version of the bill following pressure from conservationists, American Indian tribes and rural communities who oppose siphoning water from remote Nevada valleys to the state’s largest city. Although the bill still requires approval from both the Assembly and Senate to become law, opponents say the watered-down version assuages their concerns about the pipeline.
An international team of researchers has carried out the first systematic global review of water reallocation from rural to urban regions—the practice of transferring water from rural areas to cities to meet demand from growing urban populations. … The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found North America and Asia are hotspots for rural-to-urban water reallocation,
Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office will deliver at least 322,000 acre feet of water — or a 92% allocation — rather than a full 350,000 from Upper Klamath Lake to the Klamath Project this summer and fall.
Responding to congressional approval of a Southwestern drought pact, officials from the Imperial Irrigation District said Tuesday the Salton Sea is the untested plan’s “first casualty.” … IID had refused to sign the plan because it wanted a “firm commitment” of more than $400 million in state and federal funds to resolve environmental issues at the Salton Sea.
A bill that would authorize the federal government to enact a drought plan for Colorado River basin states in times of shortage has passed Congress and is on its way to the White House for the president’s signature. … Its aim is to protect water users from deep losses and keep the reservoirs and river healthy.
On March 29, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that cannabis cultivators with water rights are not allowed to divert surface water for cannabis cultivation activities at any time from April 1 through October 31 of this year unless the water diverted is from storage. … It’s really just common sense because it prohibits using water from surface sources, such as streams, creeks, and rivers during California’s dry season.
Officials met in Imperial Beach Friday to discuss the sewage pollution that continues to plague South Bay shorelines — shuttering beaches more than 100 days every year. The event was billed as an “inaugural dialogue,” which in the future will include a host of other binational issues, including climate change and commerce.
Despite its designation as a desert, the Coachella Valley is blessed with water. The very names associated with the most prominent places and businesses in the desert, such as the Oasis Hotel, Mineral Springs Hotel, Deep Well, Indian Wells, Palm Springs, Snow Creek, and Tahquitz River Estates, all conjure up pretty images of water. But the early story of desert water is more utilitarian than picturesque: it quite literally can be seen as a history of ditches.
Klamath Irrigation District has filed a lawsuit against Reclamation in federal court in Medford. Klamath Water Users Association will follow suit in a separate legal filing, jointly with Klamath Drainage District, Shasta View Irrigation District, Tulelake Irrigation District and individual farmers Rob Unruh and DuVal. Limitation to water supply stem from protections in the biological opinion for endangered sucker in Upper Klamath Lake and Coho Salmon in the Klamath River.
Tohono O’odham Chairman Edward D. Manuel testified Thursday that lack of water has been killing crops and livestock – and, essentially, the tribe’s economy – and things will only get worse if federal funding is allowed to lapse. That’s why Manuel joined officials from other tribes, utilities and advocacy groups to urge passage of a bill by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, that would make permanent a federal fund used to help the government meet its obligations under legal settlements over water-rights issues.
On the first morning of a water conference in downtown Phoenix on Friday, an academic expert spoke of aridification in the Colorado River basin due to the ill effects of humans burning fossil fuels. After dinner, a writer of vivid predictive fiction spoke about his book “The Water Knife,” which describes Phoenix in a dusty and water-starved river basin, in the not-so-distant future.
PG&E’s announcement it would no longer seek a new license to operate the complex set FERC’s “orphan project” process in motion… Prospective licensees have until July 1 to file applications with FERC. … A new licensee must be able to pay for the continued maintenance and operation of all project facilities and be capable of monitoring and complying with regulatory requirements arising from the project’s impacts.
Excluded from a Southwestern drought pact, the Imperial Irrigation District won a small victory on Tuesday when federal legislators included protections for the Salton Sea that were left out of previous drafts of the agreement.
Two members of Arizona’s congressional delegation introduced legislation Tuesday on a plan to address a shrinking supply of water from a river that serves 40 million people in the U.S. West. Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva vowed to move identical bills quickly through the chambers. Bipartisan lawmakers from Colorado River basin states signed on as co-sponsors.
The March 26 opinion piece by Tom Buschatzke and 13 other Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan proponents to persuade the public that the DCP is good for the Salton Sea would have been better served – and made more believable – by a show of good faith rather than a show of force.
A plan to divvy up cutbacks to Colorado River water in times of shortage has passed its first two tests in Congress. On Thursday, a House subcommittee endorsed the Drought Contingency Plan after questioning the state and federal officials who crafted it. Thursday’s approval came a day after a Senate subcommittee endorsed the plan. Next, lawmakers in both chambers will have to negotiate and vote on bills that would allow the federal government to carry out the plan.
Too often considered a problem confined to the Central Valley and agricultural communities, the fact is that lack of access to safe, clean drinking water in school water fountains and home faucets affects every region of our state. This is a situation Gov. Gavin Newsom has rightly called a “disgrace” and has made it a priority to fix the crisis. In this life-saving endeavor, he has the support of Silicon Valley’s most innovative companies.
Democrats and their allies are moving to push back against a former lobbyist and frequent foe of California environmentalists who is on his way to becoming the next secretary of the Interior Department. They don’t have the power to block Trump nominee David Bernhardt, but they do have far more ability to oppose his agenda than they had for the last two years, when he served as the powerful deputy secretary of the department.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally vowed Wednesday to take quick action on a plan to preserve the drought-stricken Colorado River, which serves about 40 million people in the U.S. West and Mexico. … The plans that have been in the works for years got a first congressional hearing Wednesday before a subcommittee that McSally chairs. The Arizona Republican said she’ll introduce a bill soon and expects strong support.
In recent days, there have been contentions that the DCP has left a major factor out of the equation: the Salton Sea, California’s largest inland lake. But this simply is not the case. … The Imperial Irrigation District has yet to sign on to the DCP. The DCP has an on-ramp for IID’s participation if they change their minds. But with or without IID’s participation, the DCP will not adversely impact the Salton Sea…
The agreement represents the first multistate effort in more than a decade to readjust the collective rules for dealing with potential shortages. … But even as the drought agreement has earned widespread praise as a historic step toward propping up the river’s reservoirs, Arizona’s plan for implementing the deal has also drawn criticism for relying on a strategy that some argue has significant drawbacks.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman commended Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming for reaching a consensus on the Colorado River drought contingency plan. Now the states are seeking approval from Congress to implement it.
On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, veteran environmental journalist Jim Robbins joins us to talk about his in-depth series headlined, “The West’s Great River Hits Its Limits: Will the Colorado Run Dry?”
The Colorado River Basin was already running near empty before the Trump administration approved a new deal allowing additional extractions from one of its main tributaries. While the administration found the deal would not have a significant impact on the environment surrounding the river, a collection of environmental groups say in a new federal lawsuit that it will further deplete the river basin’s supply…
An interview with Don Hankins, professor of geography and planning at Chico State and a Plains Miwok traditional cultural practitioner. He has spent his academic career working on water and fire issues in California, with a focus on applied traditional Indigenous stewardship.
Past droughts have stress-tested California’s water management institutions, and some of the vulnerabilities they revealed still linger today. Given that climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of future droughts, recognizing and addressing institutional vulnerabilities is critical.
For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Colorado River Commission of Nevada. Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins was appointed last August to take the helm of the United States section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries…
As the Trump administration moves toward a drought contingency plan for the Colorado River, the Bureau of Reclamation is pushing legislation that would exempt its work from environmental reviews. That includes potential impacts on what has emerged as a major sticking point in the drought negotiations: Southern California’s Salton Sea, a public health and ecological disaster.
If, as being widely reported, the Colorado River basin states … ultimately decide to proceed with a Lower Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan that cuts out the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), no one should be surprised. It’s simply continuing a long, and perhaps successful, tradition of basin governance by running over the “miscreant(s)”.
Rebuffed by an Arizona House panel, a Globe lawmaker convinced a Senate committee Tuesday that Pinal County farmers should get $20 million more to help drill new wells to replace Colorado River water they will give up. The 6-3 vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee came after Republican Rep. David Cook argued the farmers were promised the cash as part of the drought contingency plan enacted by in January.
Still unconvinced Klamath River dam removal wouldn’t result in excessive silt at Crescent City Harbor, Del Norte County supervisors are asking the nonprofit organization behind the effort to set aside mitigation dollars. With a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors directed Community Development Director Heidi Kunstal to draft a letter to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation with its request.
On March 6, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) issued a public Environmental Assessment on the Operations Plan for the Klamath Irrigation Project. … It will definitely decide how many Chinook salmon people have for harvest for Tribal members and commercial fishermen. It could also return us to the days where 84-92 percent of the juvenile salmon died in the Klamath River and reignite the Klamath River water wars…
The Imperial Irrigation District is being written out of a massive, multi-state Colorado River drought plan at the eleventh hour. IID could sue to try to stop the revised plan from proceeding, and its board president called the latest development a violation of California environmental law. But Metropolitan Water District of Southern California general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said attorneys for his agency, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and others in a working group are finalizing new documents to remove IID from the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.
Environmental groups Monday asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a ruling that struck down part of a high-profile removal plan for four dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon, saying it set a precedent that would exempt dozens of dams nationwide from meeting water quality standards.
The Metropolitan Water District is positioning itself to shoulder California’s entire water contribution, with its board voting Tuesday on a proposal to essentially write out of the drought plan another agency that gets more Colorado River water than anyone else. That agency, the Imperial Irrigation District, has said it won’t approve the plan unless the federal government agrees to commit $200 million to address the Salton Sea.
The Colorado River’s federal managers have projected that if dry conditions continue, they could be unable to deliver any water at all to downstream users (including Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, and San Diego) within five years. That’s the doomsday scenario that has led the Colorado River’s water managers and users to the cusp of adopting the Drought Contingency Plan, a temporary yet broad agreement to reduce water use and ensure that the reservoirs continue to provide a reliable water supply.
California is now the lone holdout on an emergency drought plan for the Colorado River, and the other river states are turning up the heat to get the deal done. Representatives from Nevada and five other Western states sent a letter to California on Saturday urging water officials there to set aside their concerns and “and immediately and unconditionally approve” the so-called Drought Contingency Plan.
The question comes up with every dire media report or bleak new forecast about the Colorado River: How much longer can Nevada’s largest community continue to rely on a single source of water to power its prosperity? It’s an important question, maybe the most important. No Southwestern state gets less water from the river than Nevada. No major city depends on that water more than Las Vegas. But the Colorado is in trouble. (Part 1 of 8 in a series.)
Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads, railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Environmentalists and rural water users expressed broad support last week for a bill that would create small water reserves in aquifers across Nevada. Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Republican Sen. Pete Goicoechea of Eureka, Nev., aims to prevent regulators from issuing more rights to water than there is water available, an issue already playing out in more than 100 groundwater basins.
What better way to decompress from a stressful federal government job than by trekking 2,600 miles on foot from Mexico to Canada? That’s what Jared Blumenfeld, the new head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, did three years ago, setting out on the arduous and beloved Pacific Crest Trail that traces California’s searing deserts, rugged mountains and sparkling coastline.
With another deadline missed Monday, the head of the Bureau of Reclamation is now looking for the governors in the states in the Colorado River basin to tell her what they think she should do to keep water levels from dropping even lower. But there’s just two weeks for them to do that.
The extra water from Shasta Lake would raise the lake by an estimated 20 feet, inundating the McCloud River, which is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That piece of legislation was designed to protect the trout that heavily populate those waters. And it’s not just state law that speaks out. One of the provisions of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act is to protect fisheries up and down the state’s major rivers. Raising Shasta Dam now would only be possible by overturning those two laws.
About half the Sycuan Indian tribe relies heavily on a single groundwater well for water. The whole tribe now wants access to the same water most San Diegans enjoy – Colorado River water, Northern California water and desalinated Pacific Ocean water. Most of San Diego’s state legislative delegation is pushing a bill that could make it happen.
Plans to give Nevada’s top water official more flexibility to wade into water rights disputes got a rough reception in the state Legislature. Farmers, conservationists and American Indians from Nevada and Utah turned out in opposition to the proposals in two bills. No one spoke in support of measures critics say would direct more water toward urban and suburban development at the expense of farming, ranching and the environment in rural valleys.
We hope the move by MWD — which in 2016 had played hardball of its own by linking its support of the Colorado River drought plan to federal and state support of a Delta water project — doesn’t again sidetrack true federal involvement at the Salton Sea.
It has occurred to me that the rush to remove the dams on the Klamath River is lacking in a whole host of ways, and I commend city Councilman Jason Greenough for being at least open to the notion that the dam removal might not be in the best interests of the community.
The new House of Representatives is rolling out its game plan and strategies for the next two years, and it’s clear which state holds the most clout: California. … California now has more Democrats in the lower chamber than the entire congressional delegations of Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Washington combined. The state’s power to shape the agenda goes beyond leadership. In the environment and energy fields, 12 Californians are subcommittee chairs and vice chairs.
Hundreds of thousands of threatened red coho and hook-jawed Chinook salmon used to swim here, nearly 200 miles from where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. … But by the 2000s, their numbers had dwindled to just a few dozen adults each year. Since size largely determines whether juvenile fish survive, conservation organizations have been interested in this particular property, which includes the entire 2.2-mile length of the Big Springs Creek and 7.5-miles of the Shasta River, for decades.
House Speaker Rusty Bowers on Tuesday withdrew his bill that would repeal state laws on when farmers forfeit their water rights — legislation that the Gila River Indian Community said would cause it to withdraw from the multi-state drought contingency plan. But Bowers’ move did not get the tribe to sign the papers agreeing to provide Arizona with the 500,000 acre-feet of water it needs to make the drought plan a reality.
What may be the nation’s largest dam removal project—delayed for years by regulatory and legal disputes of a utility, stakeholders and states over licensing and environmental permits—now may have new momentum after a hard-hitting January federal appeals court ruling. Kiewit Infrastructure West, Granite Construction and Barnard Construction are shortlisted for the $400-million project to design and deconstruct four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon.
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community said in a statement Thursday that a decision by House Speaker Rusty Bowers to move forward with a contentious water bill threatens the community’s plan to support the drought agreement. The Gila River Indian Community’s involvement is key because it’s entitled to about a fourth of the Colorado River water that passes through the Central Arizona Project’s canal.
The Colorado River has been dammed, diverted, and slowed by reservoirs, strangling the life out of a once-thriving ecosystem. But in the U.S. and Mexico, efforts are underway to revive sections of the river and restore vital riparian habitat for native plants, fish, and wildlife. Last in a series.
The Siskiyou County Water Users Association received confirmation that its writ of mandamus, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals in November, 2018, has been scheduled for the docket early next month. The writ asks the court to compel the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to rule on a motion the SCWUA filed in April, 2018, which attempts to stop the transfer of the dams’ ownership to the KRRC – the nonprofit formed to decommission them.
The Klamath Tribes have made it clear that we are not interested in engaging in water settlement discussions. However, we are very interested in discussions that will protect and enhance our treaty resources.
The Colorado river crisis ought to be upsetting markets. The U.S. waterway supports some $4 trillion in GDP and at least $1.3 trillion in stock value across seven U.S. states. The river was already virtually tapped out last century, and continuing troubles have now led the federal government to step in to help manage its water use. Yet investors have barely caused a ripple.
The Imperial Irrigation District holds among the oldest and largest rights to water from the Colorado River and is using that as leverage to get what it sees as a better deal in current drought contingency plan negotiations involving states that draw from the river. Among the hardball tactics IID is putting in play: A demand that the federal government provide $200 million for efforts to bolster the beleaguered Salton Sea.
The latest chapter in the long-running dispute over how to manage water in the Klamath Basin is playing out in northern California communities. … About two dozen protesters are standing along Main Street in Yreka, the seat of Siskiyou County, which lies just across Oregon’s southern border. They’re holding signs saying “Stop The Klamath Dam Scams.”
Wednesday, the California Fish and Game Commission made Klamath-Trinity spring Chinook salmon a candidate for listing under the California Endangered Species Act. The decision was in response to a petition filed last year by the Karuk Tribe and the Salmon River Restoration Council. A final decision to list the species will be made within 12 months; in the meantime Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook will be afforded all the protections of a listed species.
For every one of the nearly two dozen people who spoke at a public hearing Wednesday in Arcata, removing the dams is both necessary and overdue. Fishing populations have been depleted and stretches of the river have become toxic because it doesn’t flow freely, attendees said at the D Neighborhood Center public hearing. Members of various state agencies, including the state Division of Water Rights and the state Water Resources Control Board, listened and took notes. The agencies’ draft EIR is the latest step in a process spanning many years.
A notice published recently in the Federal Register is not sitting well with Imperial Irrigation District. That notice, submitted by the Department of Interior through the Bureau of Reclamation and published on Feb. 1, calls recommendations from the governors of the seven Colorado River Basin state for protective actions the Department of Interior should take in the absence of a completed drought contingency plan.
The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday will consider a petition to list spring run Chinook salmon on the Upper Klamath-Trinity River as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is recommending the Fish and Game commission accepts the petition, which was submitted by the Karuk Tribe and the Salmon River Restoration Council in July 2018.
On Tuesday, the Democratic members of the House Committee on Natural Resources elected Huffman to serve as chair for the newly established Water, Ocean and Wildlife Subcommittee. The chair is the result of a long career championing environmental protections and, for Huffman, it’s both an honor and a welcome added responsibility.
Did the goalposts just move on us? … Media reports suggest that Reclamation is lumping Arizona with California, which clearly did not meet the deadline, in its reasoning for taking an action that we had all hoped to avoid. It’s easy to feel betrayed by that, to conclude that Arizona was asked to move mountains and then when we did, we were told it still wasn’t good enough.
Public meetings seeking comment on a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for surrender of the Lower Klamath Project license begin this week, according to a news release from the California State Water Resources Control Board. The license surrender is one step toward the proposed removal of four PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River, three of which are in California.
California’s Imperial Irrigation District will get the last word on the seven-state Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans. And IID could end up with $200 million to restore the badly polluted and fast-drying Salton Sea. Thursday, as the clock ticked toward a midnight deadline set by a top federal official, all eyes had been on Arizona. But lawmakers there approved the Colorado River drought deal with about seven hours to spare. IID, an often-overlooked southeastern California agricultural water district, appears to have thrown a last-minute monkey wrench into the process.
Communities along the Colorado River are facing a new era of drought and water shortages that is threatening their future. With an official water emergency declaration now possible, farmers, ranchers, and towns are searching for ways to use less water and survive. Third in a series.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed a drought contingency plan Thursday afternoon, six hours ahead of the deadline set by a key federal official for the state to act or face having its Colorado River water supply determined by her.That came despite objections from some legislators who questioned why the state will allow Pinal County farmers to once again pump groundwater for their crops and will also provide cash to help them do it.
The Bureau of Reclamation, the Interior Department’s Western water bureaucracy that saw its dam-building heyday in the 1960s, has risen in stature once again in the Trump administration. Reclamation has flexed its muscles on Colorado River drought management plans… And it has been the administration’s key player in trying to fulfill President Trump’s campaign promise to deliver more water to California farmers, squeezing the state and forging ahead on a dam project California says it doesn’t want.
After many years of hard work, North Coast dam removal efforts are now rapidly accelerating. On Friday, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced that it is pulling the application to relicense the Potter Valley Project, a series of two dams and a large diversion on the Upper Eel River. On Feb. 6, the California Water Resources Control Board is coming to Arcata to take comments on their final 401 (Clean Water Act) permit to remove four dams on the Klamath River. What does this all mean? Are we really about to see the Eel and Klamath River dams come down?
The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.
The Colorado River Indian Tribes, or CRIT, have lands that stretch along 56 miles of the lower Colorado River. The tribe’s right to divert nearly 720,000 acre-feet from the river is more than twice the water that is allocated to the state of Nevada. By law, that water is to be used on the reservation. But if CRIT convinces Congress to allow off-reservation leasing, the change would free up a large volume of water that would be highly desirable for cities and industries.
Warnings of doomsday on the river are nothing new. Too many people, farms and factories depend on too little water, which is why the Colorado now rarely flows to its end point at the Gulf of California. The sprawling Southwest has sucked the river dry. Yet the region has thrived in spite of the naysayers. Until now, it appears.
Avoiding a long-expected crisis on the Colorado River, a water source for 40 million people, is coming down to a final few days of frenzied negotiations. A 19-year drought and decades of overuse have put a water shortfall on the horizon. If California and six other states, all with deeply entrenched interests, can’t agree on a plan to cut their water consumption by Jan. 31, the federal government says it will step in and decide the river’s future.
A federal appellate court decision issued on January 25, 2019 will affect the relicensing of hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River and efforts to accomplish dam removal under an existing settlement agreement.
In Arizona, the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan now hinges on the approval of tribal nations. The plan is meant to levy water cuts to seven Western states in order to prevent the river and its reservoirs from reaching critical levels — but after a state lawmaker introduced legislation that undermines parts of the Gila River Indian Community’s water settlement, the tribe has threatened to exit the plan. Without tribal buy-in, Arizona’s implementation design will collapse….
Federal Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman has drawn a line in the sand for Arizona and other Western states: Finish a deal to take less water from the Colorado River by Thursday, or the federal government will be forced to step in and decide how to prevent reservoirs from falling to critical levels. … The plan’s success or failure will turn on the actions of a few key players, including leaders of the Legislature, tribes, farmers, cities and the state’s water managers.
Eureka City Manager Greg Sparks and the Wiyot Tribe are currently working to finish the paperwork needed to officially transfer ownership of the land back to the tribe. It’s a move without precedent across the nation, according to numerous experts consulted for this story, all of whom said that while there have been instances of the federal government, nonprofits and private entities returning land to tribes, Eureka appears to be the first local municipality to have ever taken such a step.
Arizona’s water leaders and lawmakers are running out of time to complete the state’s Drought Contingency Plan, a blueprint for how Arizona water users would share a likely shortage on the Colorado River. … There are a lot of moving parts to understand and a lot of concepts that may seem overwhelming. Here are the things you need to know in advance of the Jan. 31 deadline to finish the plan.
The Gila River Indian Community is threatening to blow up the drought-contingency plan because of efforts it says will undermine its claim to water rights. House Speaker Rusty Bowers is proposing changes to state laws in a way he said will protect the rights of farmers in the Safford Valley who have been “scratching it out” to water from the Gila River. But attorney Don Pongrace, who represents the Gila River Indian Community, said … courts have ruled those rights — and the water that goes with it — belong to the tribe.
Without a change in how the Colorado River is managed, Lake Powell is headed toward becoming a “dead pool,” essentially useless as a reservoir while revealing a sandstone wonderland once thought drowned forever by humanity’s insatiable desire to bend nature to its will. … Absent cutbacks to deliveries to the Lower Basin, a day could come when water managers may have little choice but to lower the waters that have inundated Utah’s Glen Canyon for the past half-century.
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman today named Ernest A. Conant director of the Mid-Pacific Region. Conant has nearly 40 years of water law experience and previously served as senior partner of Young Wooldridge, LLP.
More water storage projects will not solve the basic fact that the state’s finite amount of water is incapable of meeting all of the demands. This deficit has been created primarily by the transformation of a semi-arid area— the Central Valley — by an infusion of water from northern California.
Members of the Colorado River Indian Tribes will vote Saturday, Jan. 19 on a proposed ordinance to allow for the lease of a portion of the Tribes’ Colorado River water allocation to outside interests. The issue of leasing Tribal water rights has become a contentious issue among Tribal members. Opponents claim this compromises the Tribes’ resources, while supporters point to the economic benefits.
The draft legislation compiled by the Department of Water Resources looks similar to how water leaders described the measures at a Drought Contingency Plan Steering Committee meeting last week. … But the legislation as drafted barely delves into the nitty-gritty details of a far more complex intrastate agreement that Arizona water users have been hashing out for months.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California … began what is being referred to as “defensive withdrawals” from Lake Mead. Remember, Lake Mead is severely low, and if L.A. takes all of the water they’ve been allotted, it will trigger emergency supply restrictions for everyone else. So, why are they doing this with the agreement deadline so close? The Show turned to Debra Kahn who covers California environmental policy and broke the story for Politico Pro.
Up against a federal deadline to approve a Colorado River drought plan — a “generational change” in Arizona water management — four key legislators say they’re optimistic they’ll meet it. Led by House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Mesa Republican, they see the Legislature as ready — finally — to officially endorse the plan. That’s even though competing water interest groups still have highly visible disagreements about it.
Gov. Doug Ducey will use his fifth State of the State speech Monday, Jan. 14, to try to corral the votes to approve a drought-contingency plan in the next 17 days or risk federal intervention. “We’re in a position now where we have a sense of urgency and focus on Arizona’s water situation,” the governor told the business community Friday in previewing the speech that kicks off the legislative session.
With a federal deadline to sign a Colorado River drought deal three weeks away, Arizona water managers are still grappling with several unresolved issues that could get in the way of finishing an agreement. The outstanding issues, some of which are proving contentious, range from developers’ concerns about securing future water supplies to lining up funding for Pinal County farmers to drill wells and begin to pump more groundwater.
The U.S. Interior Department is facing three lawsuits filed by three environmental groups who allege its plans for the 200,000-acre Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex along the Oregon-California border violates several federal laws. A fourth complaint from six farms and agricultural groups alleges the agency has unlawfully exceeded its authority by restricting leases of refuge land for agricultural purposes.
The two-week-old shutdown has halted one of the federal government’s most important public health activities, the inspections of chemical factories, power plants, oil refineries, water treatment plants, and thousands of other industrial sites for pollution violations.
Crescent City Harbormaster Charlie Helms said he and commissioners are worried about sediment being deposited in the marina and the potential impact it could have on the commercial fleet. A new environmental document predicts the level of sediment released as a result of dam removal will be similar to what the river carries downstream during an average year.
The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.
These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.
We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:
An arbiter has sided with five local tribes in a dispute over what [San Diego] county water officials argued was a request that left them with an unexpected $2.1 million budget deficit after the tribes won back lost water rights.
Colorado River water managers were supposed to finish drought contingency plans by the end of the year. As it looks now, they’ll miss that deadline. If the states fail to do their job, the federal government could step in. Luke Runyon, a reporter with KUNC who covers on the Colorado River Basin recaps what’s been happening and why it’s so important.
Due to rising average temperatures, snowpacks in the Great Basin appear to be transitioning from seasonal, with a predictable amount and melt rate, to “ephemeral,” or short-lived, which are less predictable and only last up to 60 days. “We might not get as much water into the ground, throwing off the timing of water for plant root systems, reducing our supply and use, and even affecting businesses such as tourism,” says lead researcher Rose Petersky.
On stage in a conference room at Las Vegas’s Caesars Palace, Keith Moses said coming to terms with the limits of the Colorado River is like losing a loved one. “It reminds me of the seven stages of grief,” Moses said. “Because I think we’ve been in denial for a long time.” Moses is vice chairman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, a group of four tribes near Parker, Arizona.
The head of the federal agency controlling the Colorado River said Thursday the U.S. government will impose unprecedented restrictions on water supplies to the seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the river unless everyone agrees by Jan. 31 on a plan to deal with an expected shortage in 2020.
After more a year of obstacles, the federal government will resume a project to fulfill an 80-year-old promise. The Trump administration halted work in October 2017 on a plan to build a village for tribal members who fished the Columbia River for millennia, but last week, money reappeared in the budget.
The Hopi Tribe cannot claim special damage on land controlled by the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Thursday, all but ending an eight-year legal battle and ensuring the ski area can continue using machine-made snow on the state’s most popular slopes. The Hopi Tribe’s lawsuit was originally about the machine-made snow. Its complaint alleged that Snowbowl’s use of treated wastewater to make the snow damaged the San Francisco Peaks, which the tribe considers sacred.
After more a year of obstacles, the federal government will resume a project to fulfill an 80-year-old promise. The Trump administration halted work in October 2017 on a plan to build a village for tribal members who fished the Columbia River for millennia, but last week, money reappeared in the budget. … Starting with the Bonneville Dam in the 1930s, the federal government flooded villages where tribal members lived.
“Fish are very important to me, to my family, my culture.” “It’s surprising how much you rely on traditional foods if you’re in a community like we are. You don’t necessarily realize it until you don’t have it . . . especially salmon.” “If the water quality got better, rivers and creeks would be much better and it would bring back the fish.” These are the voices of youth from the Karuk tribe in the Klamath River watershed, as heard in a new video that explores the connections between ecosystem health and tribal well-being.
The Klamath Tribes on Thursday announced they have withdrawn a lawsuit regarding lake levels in Upper Klamath Lake against the Bureau of Reclamation. The lawsuit was awaiting a court date in Portland, after being moved from a federal court in San Francisco court in July by U.S. District Judge William Orrick.
The Klamath Tribes have dismissed a pending lawsuit against a federal agency over several endangered fish species in the Upper Klamath Lake, but the tribes maintain the agency’s actions have brought the fish close to extinction.
Department of Interior official Alan Mikkelsen — who spent the week in Klamath Falls and Medford — said he will return to the Basin next month to continue water talks, but that he has no plans to reach out to the Klamath Tribes based on their last interaction. Mikkelsen, senior adviser to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on water and western resources, said he’s met with a group of stakeholders at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Medford on Monday for what he calls a “coalition of the willing.”
As the Colorado River Basin becomes drier and shortage conditions loom, one great variable remains: How much of the river’s water belongs to Native American tribes? Increasingly, tribes are pressing to have the importance of their water rights recognized and seeking the means to use them. An impending tribal water study should shed light on the issue as questions are raised about how to sustainably share water in an already overallocated Colorado River Basin.
As the Colorado River Basin becomes drier and shortage conditions loom, one great variable remains: How much of the river’s water belongs to Native American tribes?
Native Americans already use water from the Colorado River and its tributaries for a variety of purposes, including leasing it to non-Indian users. But some tribes aren’t using their full federal Indian reserved water right and others have water rights claims that have yet to be resolved. Combined, tribes have rights to more water than some states in the Colorado River Basin.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $26.6 million in funding to 87 tribes in California to invest in environmental programs and water infrastructure. EPA made the announcement at the Pacific Southwest Region’s 26th Annual Tribal/EPA Conference held in San Francisco this week, hosted by the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians. “This vital funding helps tribes provide safe drinking water to their communities and maintain important environmental programs,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker.
Open space and views were plentiful Saturday morning for visitors to Tolay Lake Regional Park, Sonoma County’s newest, and largest regional park, at 3,400 acres. For the first time, without any supervision, visitors were allowed free rein to traverse miles of trail, offering views of San Pablo Bay and much of southern Sonoma County.
With a deadline approaching for Arizona to finish a deal that would divvy up cutbacks in Colorado River water deliveries, the state’s cities, tribes and agricultural irrigation districts are entering what should be the final stretch of negotiations.
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Mission Springs Water District are exploring new ways to collaborate on water management and conservation issues, a partnership that comes as both entities are locked in separate lawsuits with the Coachella Valley’s two other water agencies.
For generations, it was simply known as “the river” — or “wenot” in the local dialect — for its healing minerals and voluminous size. No other local waterway carried as special a title. “We had therapeutic water here. That no longer exists,” says Matthew Teutimez, member of the Kizh-Gabrieleño Nation, one of several tribes indigenous to the Los Angeles region. “The creator put it here to help heal our bodies.”
A Native American tribe in southern Arizona has finally lifted an evacuation notice two weeks after heavy rainfall threatened a 22-foot-high (6.70 meters) earthen dam and forced some people to leave their homes.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe is suing federal agencies for allegedly failing to reduce the numbers of endangered Coho salmon killed by fisheries in the Pacific Ocean, the tribe announced Wednesday. “Hoopa is making every effort to recover Coho salmon with this lawsuit,” said Vivienna Orcutt, a Hoopa tribal council member.
Crow Indian leaders blamed U.S. officials for “gross mismanagement” of tribal money after investigators said the Montana tribe couldn’t account for almost $13 million intended for water system improvements.
A dam on the Tohono O’odham Nation is expected to overflow and could fail due to heavy rain and flooding from remnants of Tropical Storm Rosa, authorities said Tuesday night. The status of the dam remained unchanged on Wednesday morning, weather officials said.
The event, called Run4Salmon, is part of the [Winnemem Wintu] tribe’s plans to change the course of history for endangered Chinook, once plentiful in this part of the world. … [Winnemem Chief Caleen] Sisk says heightening Shasta Dam would further harm salmon and flood ancestral land. She advocates for the construction of new swim-ways to bypass the dam to allow salmon to spawn above it.
The giant Douglas fir hit the water with a great splash just as a powerful gust of wind from the Chinook helicopter rotors blew across the river…. The charred trunk, weighing as much as 25,000 pounds, was one of 300 fire-damaged trees that the [Yurok Indian] tribe and its partners strategically placed in the South Fork of the Trinity River this past week in an attempt to alter the current, scour out accumulated sediment and restore long-lost salmon habitat in the river.
The Klamath Tribes believe the federal government has taken a “giant step backwards” in the road to a comprehensive, long-term agreement aiming to solve water conflicts in the Basin. That’s because the U.S. government rolled back a federal program in its fifth year of providing $500,000 for a study aimed at testing water quality in Upper Klamath Lake.
The defunct Copper Bluff Mine in the Hoopa Valley area could be added to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. “Though the Copper Bluff Mine closed decades ago, it is still affecting the Trinity River, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and the tribal fishery,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker in a statement.
For thousands of years, the Klamath River has been a source of nourishment for the Northern California tribes that live on its banks. Its fish fed dozens of Indian villages along its winding path, and its waters cleansed their spirits, as promised in their creation stories.
Klamath River salmon, freshly caught and cooked the traditional way over an open fire, is back on the menu at the Yurok Tribe’s 56th annual Klamath Salmon Festival, which is happening Saturday. … In 2016 and 2017, the tribe could not in good conscious serve Klamath salmon at the festival because the fish runs were so low, according to a Yurok Tribe press release.
One of the unintended consequences of the devastation of Carr Fire in Shasta County is that is has been providing more water to Klamath and Trinity river fish in a time when river conditions have been looking tenuous. Hoopa Valley Tribe’s Fisheries Director Mike Orcutt said the dam-controlling U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has nearly doubled flows on the Trinity River since late July.
Amy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.
The Karuk Tribe and UC Berkeley are launching a $1.2 million study to determine how to best protect native foods and resources in the face of a changing climate and a history of environmental degradation in the mid-Klamath River Basin.
Judge William H. Orrick has denied the motion for preliminary injunction to protect endangered Lost River and shortnose sucker, and granted a motion to transfer the case to an Oregon court, according to the opinion Orrick released Wednesday. … The case involves the Klamath Tribes lawsuit filed against the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service.
A 90-year-old defunct copper mine along the Trinity River that has been draining acidic runoff and heavy metals into the Trinity River is now being eyed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a candidate to become a Superfund cleanup site.
“Devastating” was how Karuk Tribe Executive Director Josh Saxon described the news that only 106 adult spring-run Chinook salmon were found on the Salmon River this year — believed to be the second lowest count on record. The results of the annual Salmon River fish count on Wednesday as well as poor river conditions on the Klamath River tributary has prompted concerns about the potential for a fish kill and the future viability of what some say is already an endangered species.
The Yurok Tribe is claiming a “major victory” this year in its cannabis eradication campaign, known as Operation Yurok, not because it cut down tens of thousands of plants, but because it didn’t have to cut down any.
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is taking additional steps toward reducing its carbon footprint, installing machines that convert roughly 624 tons of solid food waste into water, rather than send it to local landfills, at the casino resort spa in Rancho Mirage.
No one is popping the champagne corks just yet, but the process to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River just took a big step forward. On June 28, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation released the Definite Plan for the Lower Klamath Project, a 2,300-page detailed analysis of how the reservoirs would be drawn down, the dams removed, the materials disposed of and the formerly inundated land restored.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe notified federal agencies Wednesday of its intent to file a lawsuit claiming the agencies failed to follow their own protocols that are meant to protect Endangered Species Act-listed coho salmon when they approved this year’s salmon fishing regulations.
A federal lawsuit that could determine access to water in the Klamath Basin this summer has taken a new turn as parties argue whether the Klamath Tribes should post a $50 million bond to protect irrigators. According to parties intervening in the suit, at least $50 million is needed to cover financial losses for agricultural producers who would lose access to water if the court rules in the Tribes’ favor.
The state of Maine is locked in a legal battle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a pair of American Indian tribes about the way clean water standards apply in and around tribal lands. Maine is arguing in the lawsuit that the EPA is unfairly imposing heightened water quality standards in the tribal areas.
More than two years after the 2015-16 Dungeness and rock crab seasons in California was marred by toxic algae blooms, the federal government this week has allocated $25.8M in disaster funds to relieve fishermen and businesses affected by the closure. The Yurok Tribe was also allocated nearly $4M in disaster relief for its 2016 commercial salmon season, which was closed due to low numbers of returning spawners.
An executive order signed by President Trump late Tuesday eliminates an uncelebrated but far-reaching review process put in place eight years ago among state, tribal and federal agencies to better coordinate ocean policy in the wake of the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Leaders of the Blackfeet Nation and U.S. Interior Department on Tuesday put into effect a $471 million settlement of water rights claims that was decades in the making for the northwestern Montana American Indian tribe.
On a warm September Saturday in 2002, Amy Cordalis stood in a Yurok Tribal Fisheries Department boat on the Klamath River, in response to reports from fishermen that something was amiss on the river. On this stretch of the Yurok Reservation, the river was wide and deep, having wound its way from its headwaters at the Upper Klamath Lake, through arid south-central Oregon to the California coast.
Washington state must restore salmon habitat by removing barriers that block fish migration after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left in place a lower court order. The justices divided 4-4 in the long-running dispute that pits the state against Northwest Indian tribes and the federal government. The tie serves to affirm a lower court ruling.
The [Klamath] water users association on Wednesday filed a motion in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of San Francisco, asking that the Klamath Tribes’ case be dismissed in San Francisco’s court, and that the case be heard in federal court located closer to Upper Klamath Lake, where the case originates.
More than 300 people who say their livelihoods depend on a coal-fired plant on a sprawling Native American reservation rallied in Phoenix Wednesday to request a 90-day delay in steps being taken to shutter it by 2019. … The board of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District is to consider alternative power sources to the generating station during a Thursday meeting.
Despairing over the impending loss of hundreds of jobs and 85 percent of its governmental revenue, the Hopi Tribe recently sued the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) for not honoring its contract to purchase power from the Navajo Generating Station until it pays back the federal loan used to build the station and construct the 336 mile-long Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal.
The Klamath Tribes of Oregon are alleging in a lawsuit filed last week that federal agencies are failing to protect endangered sucker fish in Upper Klamath Lake. The lawsuit has many similarities to a lawsuit filed by local tribes and environmental groups in 2016 alleging the same but for threatened Klamath River Coho salmon, which ended with a judge ruling in their favor.
Talks are scheduled to begin this week in Washington, D.C., to modernize the document that coordinates flood control and hydropower generation in the United States and Canada along the 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) Columbia River.
Tens of thousands of people on the Navajo Nation lack running water in their homes. But that could change in the coming years, as the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project goes into effect. It’s expected to deliver water to the reservation and nearby areas by 2024, as part of a Navajo Nation water rights settlement with New Mexico, confirmed by Congress in 2009.
Humboldt County tribes, fishermen, city officials and environmentalists on Tuesday called for the Board of Supervisors to support full removal of PG&E’s Potter Valley Project dams Tuesday after the utility company announced last week that it planned to auction off the project.
The Department of the Interior last week distributed a one-page framework for a long-term agreement aimed at resolving water issues in the Klamath Basin. Alan Mikkelsen, senior adviser to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on water and western resources, spent Monday and Tuesday meeting with Basin stakeholders about the one-page document, including water users and Klamath Tribes on Tuesday.
Local tribes and environmental groups declared victory Tuesday after a federal judge shot down a bid by Klamath Basin farmers and water districts to block dam releases meant to prevent fish disease outbreaks. Basin irrigators argued the rain and snow fall in 2017 reduced the chance of fish disease outbreaks this year, but said drought conditions in the basin this year could cause significant economic impacts to their region if water deliveries are delayed by the dam releases.
The Mojave Indians call themselves Pipa Aha Macav — “The People by the River.” The Colorado River is the economic and spiritual heartland for the Mojave and three other tribes that inhabit the Colorado River Indian Reservation, about four hours west of Tucson.
On April 18, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Washington v. United States, which pits the state of Washington against the United States and 21 Indian tribes. The main question in the case is narrow – whether the state must quickly replace hundreds of culverts that allow the flow of water under roads but also block salmon migration. Yet the underlying issue is far broader.
Federal documents and emails provided to the Times-Standard contradict and call into question the Trump administration’s reasoning for disbanding a citizen’s watchdog group tasked with overseeing a multi-million dollar, publicly funded Trinity River restoration project.
When Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was a state senator from this idyllic mountain town, he drove a Prius, sported a beard and pushed President Barack Obama to make clean energy a priority. Today, the beard and Prius are gone, and Mr. Zinke has emerged as a leading figure, along with Scott Pruitt of the Environmental Protection Agency, in the environmental rollbacks that have endeared President Trump to the fossil fuel industry and outraged conservationists.
We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.
Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Three Southern California tribes will be able to review permits for surrounding projects that could impact wild rivers and air quality within their reservations as a result of new authority given them by the federal government.
Congress and the Trump administration are pushing ahead with a plan to raise a towering symbol of dam-building’s 20th century heyday to meet the water demands of 21st century California — a project backed by San Joaquin Valley growers but opposed by state officials, defenders of a protected river and an American Indian tribe whose sacred sites would be swamped.
On April 18, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Washington v. United States, which pits the state of Washington against the United States and 21 Indian tribes. The main question in the case is narrow – whether the state must quickly replace hundreds of culverts that allow the flow of water under roads but also block salmon migration. Yet the underlying issue is far broader.
A federal judge heard arguments from attorneys representing Klamath Basin tribes, irrigators and government agencies on Wednesday in a case that is challenging the need for dam water releases meant to protect threatened fish species on the Klamath River from deadly parasitic outbreaks like those that occurred in 2014 and 2015.
The 2 p.m. court hearing on Wednesday at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco will be overseen by William Orrick. Orrick’s ruling will potentially decide factors leading to a start date — or not — for [Klamath] Basin irrigators, in a lawsuit between Bureau of Reclamation vs. Yurok and Hoopa Tribes.
A decades-old dispute over fishing rights in the lower Klamath River between the Yurok Tribe and its smaller neighbor, the Resighini Rancheria, is now going before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
The Klamath River salmon season is set to reopen this year, according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, giving fishermen and local tribes an opportunity make up the losses sustained by last year’s full closure of the fishery. The council — which makes recommendations to federal agencies on fishing rules — is set to finalize its decisions during its April 5-11 meetings in Portland, Oregon.
In an attempt to meet the needs of Klamath Basin irrigators and endangered fish species in the basin in a time of drought, a federal agency is proposing to reduce the amount of dam water releases to the Klamath River that are meant to protect threatened Coho salmon from deadly parasite outbreaks like those that occurred in 2014 and 2015.
Don Hankins is a professor of geography and planning at Chico State and a Miwkoʔ (Plains Miwok) traditional cultural practitioner. He has spent his academic career working on water and fire issues in California, with a focus on applied traditional Indigenous stewardship.
It isn’t easy being a Klamath Basin sucker. There has been a 75 percent decline in populations of two endangered Klamath Basin sucker species over the past two decades, and juvenile fish are not surviving beyond their first year of life, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
The U.S. Environmental Protection agency wants a mining company to pay for a potentially costly investigation of underground water flows at a southwestern Colorado Superfund site to help the agency devise a cleanup plan. … The spill tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and on Native American lands.
Local tribes’ say critically important dam water releases meant to protect threatened salmon on the Klamath River from deadly parasitic disease outbreaks are being contested by irrigators and water districts in the Klamath Basin as they face drought conditions.
A group of Klamath Basin water users Wednesday filed a motion in federal court in San Francisco pushing for at least a delay in the court-ordered injunction to keep 50,000 acre feet held in reserve in Upper Klamath Lake. The water is to be used to flush out the Klamath River in the spring to mitigate the impact of disease on coho salmon.
The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, which co-manage the [Sand to Snow National] monument’s 101,000 acres as wilderness, said they plan in March to dispatch a team of federal land managers, biologists and representatives of the nearby Morongo Band of Mission Indians reservation to come up with a strategy and funds to eliminate the unbranded cattle and collarless dogs.