by Josephine Djuhana | June 20, 2015 5:59 am
As severe drought conditions in California continue to worsen, state officials have started to roll out with new regulations to prioritize various water interests.
On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted new emergency regulations to protect endangered and threatened fish. Low flows in four tributaries of the Russian River cause “high temperatures, low oxygen levels and isolated pools of water that can kill fish,” such as the coho salmon and steelhead trout.
Starting July 3, roughly 13,000 properties in the watersheds of Dutch Bill Creek, Green Valley Creek, Mark West Creek and Mill Creek will be subject to “enhanced conservation measures” in addition to the existing statewide water restrictions. As reported by the Press Democrat, residents are subject to the following rural water rules:
“This is a very extreme situation,” said Corinne Gray, a senior environmental scientist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “There are already fish dying in the streams.” Gray told the SWRCB that the fish merely required a “trickle of water” between pools on the four creeks.
Farm representatives attending the meeting claimed parts of the measure were regulatory overreach. Text in the emergency measure enforces these new regulations “regardless of water seniority.”
This kind of enforcement has led to lawsuits against SWRCB. Just this week, the Banta-Carbona Irrigation District challenged water restrictions imposed by the state board, the first of potentially many more suits to come.
It remains to be seen whether the state board has the right to overrule century-old rights to water.
Source URL: https://calwatchdog.com/2015/06/20/ca-water-board-prioritizes-fish/
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