On May 23, 2023, the Karuk Tribe of California, Environmental Law Foundation, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and Institute for Fisheries Resources submitted to the State Water Board a Petition for Rulemaking to Set Minimum Flows on the Scott River. The Water Board has set a hearing on the matter for August 15, 2023, and written comments were due on July 20, 2023. Now the Water Board has added the Shasta River to the upcoming August 15 hearing agenda item for the Petition for Rulemaking to Set Minimum Flows on the Scott River.
The Water Board has re-opened public comments for the Scott River rulemaking petition to include minimum flows on the Shasta River. Written comments are due at noon on August 10, 2023. Please take a moment to submit comments in support of setting minimum instream flows on the Shasta River.
The Scott River is located near Fort Jones in Siskiyou County. The Shasta River in California originates in streams flowing off the Klamath Mountains to the west and off Mount Shasta, a 14,179-foot volcano, to the southeast. The river joins Parks Creek and other tributaries and flows 58 miles to its confluence with the Klamath River. The watershed covers 793 square miles.
Snowfall on Mt. Shasta, and in the Eddy Mountains, varies considerably. Annual rainfall in the broad, flat Shasta valley is less than 14 inches on average. In recent years, the Shasta River basin as a whole has experienced significant drought. The effects of climate change are anticipated to worsen in the Shasta watershed, with higher ambient temperatures and elevated water temperatures.
Sporting miles of ideal salmon habitat and glacial springs, the Shasta could produce vast numbers of fish. But low flows, water diversions, and polluted warm agricultural tailwater have left the Shasta River with a fraction of its historic fish populations.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife has determined that a minimum of 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) is necessary for salmonid recovery in August flows on the Shasta River. However, on August 3rd, three days after curtailments ended, flows had plummeted to 20 cfs, and at the time of writing this, they are hovering around 40 cfs.
In light of worsening drought conditions, in June 2021, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife submitted a letter to the State Water Board that requested that the State Board adopt drought emergency flows for the Scott and Shasta Rivers.
The State Board adopted the emergency regulations in 2021, and readopted them in 2022, but the current emergency regulation and water diversion curtailments expired on August 1, 2023, thus the need for a permanent rule making. After receiving the petition on the Scott River, the State Water Board held public comments and set the matter for August 15th. Now the State Board has added minimum flows for the Shasta River to the upcoming August 15th agenda, and written comments are due August 10. This is a very short comment period, and time is of the essence, so we need to let the Water Board know that we support setting minimum flows on the Shasta River, and not just the Scott River.
We need your help to speak up for the Shasta River and endangered salmon by asking the Water Board to approve the rulemaking petition and set minimum flows on the Shasta River.
If you are able to also make a brief (likely 3 minute) public comment at the Water Board Hearing on August 15, 2023 at 9:30am, please complete the virtual speaker card which is available here: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_info/calendar/#08-2023