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Scott River “Local Cooperative Solutions” and Shasta River Diversion Curtailments


The Shasta River near Hawkinsville. Photo by Marshman via Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).
The Shasta River near Hawkinsville. Photo by Marshman via Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Last winter the California State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) adopted emergency regulations for the Scott and Shasta Rivers that authorize curtailments of diversions where in-stream flows were insufficient to protect fish. As part of these emergency regulations, the Board developed a program for irrigators to adopt local cooperative solutions (LCSs), which are voluntary agreements to reduce water use in lieu of curtailments in the dry months if minimum flows for fish are not met. 


The Water Board is currently processing 46 groundwater LCS applications for the Scott River watershed, and one LCS in Shasta for the Montague Water Conservation District, which supplies water to deliver water to the City of Montague. 

Under the emergency regulations, three LCS options are offered:

  • Best Management Practice LCS, which may be approved if the water user is using a low-energy precision application (LEPA) system on all irrigated acreage and soil moisture sensors to inform irrigation timing.

  • Graduated Overlying Groundwater Diversion Cessation Schedule LCS, which may be approved if the water user provides evidence that irrigation is reduced compared to standard practice on the property (i.e. in a similar unregulated year), and stops irrigating a certain percentage of irrigated acres by specific dates.

  • Percent-reduction in Groundwater Pumping LCS, which may be approved if the water user provides a narrative, spreadsheet, and maps that describe the verifiable actions that will be taken to reduce groundwater pumping volumes.

LCS proposals were due on April 15, 2024, and are required to be implemented during the entirety of the irrigation season. Although the Water Board provided one week for the public to review these proposals in the emergency regulations, to date, none of the LCSs have been approved since they were received almost two months ago. 

We commend the Water Board for its efforts to balance the needs of water users

and watershed health by offering cooperative solutions. However, we have seen incomplete applications that lack plans for metering and monitoring, verifiable reductions, and inflated baselines. Additionally, the Water Board has offered financial resources for water users to obtain water use metering equipment; however, the irrigators are wary of using State funding, which requires reporting daily metering information to the Water Board on a monthly basis. 

Without verifiable reductions and/or metering equipment, combined with the lack of willingness to work with the Water Board, to obtain financial assistance for metering equipment, these LCSs do not contain the necessary components of a complete application. Nevertheless, the Water Board has stated that it will not curtail anyone who has submitted an LCS, even though none of the applications have been approved at this time. 


The Water Board has issued curtailment orders, effective on June 8, 2024, for the Shasta River Watershed. This past Saturday, Shasta River flows dipped to 46 cubic feet per second (cfs).  According to the Emergency Regulations outlined in the Table 1 below, the Shasta River should have minimum flows of 50 cfs for the months of May through September. 

Table 1. Shasta River flows measured in cfs at USGS gauge near Yreka, CA.


The Scott River has had a steady downward trend and is hovering around 660 cfs, which is still well above the minimum flow requirement of 125 cfs for June 1-23 as outlined in the minimum flow requirements in Table 2 below. Note that the Scott River’s hydrology is much like a bathtub and about 90% of water users pump groundwater, which has a delayed effect on Scott River flows (unlike the mostly surface water diversions in the Shasta River, which are reflected more quickly at the flow gauges).  

Table 2. Scott River flows measured in cfs at USGS gauge downstream of Fort Jones, CA. 


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