Shasta River. Photo by Val Atkinson.
The Shasta River is one of the main tributaries to the Klamath River and one of the historic key spawning grounds for salmon and steelhead. The waters of the Shasta, drawn from the glaciers and snowmelt of Mount Shasta, together feeding year-round springs, have since time immemorial provided cool, clean waters and a great gravel bed that was perfect for spawning. So good that up to half of all salmon in the Klamath watershed came back to the Shasta to spawn.
A century plus of development has radically transformed the Shasta. A dam captures channel shaping winter flows and in summer the river is so over-allocated that it nearly runs dry during the height of the irrigation season. Now the Grenada Irrigation District wants to upgrade its diversion method—and they want you, the taxpayer, to foot the six million dollar bill. On Thursday, the Wildlife Conservation Board will be reviewing grant proposals for instream flow enhancement projects including the proposed Grenada Irrigation District Flow Enhancement Project (aka pipeline)—a project for which we have ample evidence showing should not be funded. Click here to take action.
While Grenada says that this pipeline will result in a more efficient delivery of irrigation water, the new pipeline is likely to increase demand by making it cheaper to irrigate. At present, while Grenada is generally prohibited by stream flow levels from pumping their full paper water right, they can pump some water in all years. But most properties in the district are not currently irrigated due to the high costs of lifting water plus the substantial leakage from their ditch on top of their inefficient flood irrigation. This makes agriculture uneconomical—the water cost is more than the value that the crop justifies. But if the delivered cost of water could be cut by reducing both the lift and the leakage, more people in the district will likely irrigate and Grenada could then pump continuously, rather than intermittently as they now do, ultimately depleting more river flow, not adding to it. Total diversion would actually increase, to the detriment of the fish and river.
All of this is to be funded with Prop 1 funds, which are directed to enhancing fish flows. This money could find a far better home than subsidizing the Grenada Irrigation District’s inefficient irrigation. Please write today to the Wildlife Conservation Board and urge them to deny funding to this irresponsible pipeline that threatens critical fish populations and the health of the Shasta River.
EPIC is proud to work with the Friends of the Shasta River to improve in-stream conditions for California’s rare and threatened fish.