NEWS WORTH NOTING: Farmers, environmentalists create first-of-its-kind chinook salmon restoration project; Delta Conservancy’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan now open for public comments; Court to hear appeals in San Diego County Water Authority litigation over illegal MWD Rates

Farmers, Environmentalists Create First-of-its-kind California Chinook Salmon Restoration Project

River Garden Farms Leads Installation Effort of Natural Salmon Shelters in Sacramento River

For young salmon in the northern Sacramento River, life may get easier thanks to an innovative effort developed by a coalition of farmers, state and federal agencies, and environmental groups that are working to increase the chinook salmon population.

River Garden Farms of Knights Landing recently installed 25 new salmon shelter structures in the river near Redding – new habitats for salmon that are made of large tree trunks and root wads bolted to 12,000 pound limestone boulders.

The structures are intended to help baby salmon hide out and give them refuge against large predators, while enticing them to stay in colder waters longer, increasing their odds of healthy maturation for their journey to the Pacific Ocean.

“Protecting the Chinook salmon and helping to restore their population is the right thing to do for the overall health of the Sacramento River and the vital ecosystem that relies on the river to flourish,” said Roger Cornwell, General Manager of River Garden Farms in Knights Landing. “As members of this community who have been farming along the river since 1913, it is vital that we all work together to ensure the Chinook salmon have shelters to help prepare them for their journey to the Pacific Ocean and back.”

The salmon shelters project is one of more than 50 projects taking place as part of the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program, which has brought partners together to advance innovative and comprehensive projects to enhance the passage of and habitat for salmon.

“The River Garden Farms salmon shelter project is another great example of the collaborative effort underway in the Sacramento Valley, engaging a diverse group of entities, to promote salmon recovery in an innovative and comprehensive manner,” said David Guy, President, Northern California Water Association. “The Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program, and the partnerships that make it possible, represents a truly unique approach and is a model for managing precious water resources for multiple beneficial uses.”

Partnerships between the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, federal and state agencies and solution-oriented environmental groups under the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program have led to tremendous progress on projects that have had a positive impact on salmon, yet more work is ahead.

“We are pleased to work with the entire Sacramento River Valley community to play a part in this effort to improve the river for salmon,” Cornwell said. “Working together, a diverse group of businesses, public agencies and non-profit organizations is making a difference in improving the river and the ecosystem.”

Each year, Chinook salmon travel nearly 300 miles from the Pacific Ocean through the San Francisco Bay up the Sacramento River to desired spawning sites.

While salmon spawn in the fall, the Sacramento River is the only river in the world that has four salmon runs due to its intrinsic ecosystem that features near year-round cold water due to snow melt, abundant food supply, water velocity, water depth and riverbed gravel. When one or all of these are drastically altered, fish populations are impacted.

River Garden Farms was the primary funder of the project, which cost more than $600,000, with funding also coming from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Additional partners vital to the shelters project include Northern California Water Association, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Western Shasta Resource Conservation District.

About the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program

The Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program has brought partners together to advance innovative and comprehensive projects to enhance the passage of and habitat for salmon. Partnerships between the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, federal and state agencies and solution-oriented environmental groups under the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program have led to tremendous progress on projects that have had a positive impact on salmon, yet more work is ahead. The next generation of salmon projects that will aid the survival of the species focus on fish passage improvements and high-priority fish screens, flow management, and habitat improvements.

Delta Conservancy’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan now open for public comments

From the Delta Conservancy:

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy is pleased to release a draft of its 2017-2022 Strategic Plan for public comment.

The draft Strategic Plan can be found here.

The Conservancy will be accepting comments on the public draft for 45 days, from Monday, May 8, through Thursday, June 22. Please submit comments via email to contact@deltaconservancy.ca.gov.

Court to hear appeals in San Diego County Water Authority Litigation Over Illegal MWD Rates

From the San Diego County Water Authority:

On Wednesday, May 10, the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco will hear oral argument in the appeals of the San Diego County Water Authority’s victories in two lawsuits against the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. A decision from the Court of Appeal is due within 90 days of oral argument.

Superior Court Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow ruled in November 2015 that MWD’s rates for 2011-2014 were illegal. The judge directed MWD to pay the Water Authority more than $243 million in damages, costs, pre-judgment interest and attorneys’ fees – the largest plaintiff’s award in the state for 2015. If MWD were allowed to continue its unlawful rate-setting practices, which are not based on the cost of services MWD provides, overcharges to the Water Authority could exceed $7 billion over 45 years.

MWD appealed Judge Karnow’s final judgment and refused to change its rates. If the appellate ruling is appealed to the state Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court accepts review of the appeals, a final determination in the case would likely be delayed until late 2018 or 2019.

In addition to MWD’s appeals of Judge Karnow’s final decision, the Water Authority has asked the 1st District Court of Appeal to review Judge Karnow’s ruling that the agency doesn’t have standing to challenge MWD’s “Rate Structure Integrity” contract clause (also known as “RSI”), which is designed to punish MWD member agencies that contest MWD rates in courts or the state Legislature. The Water Authority believes the RSI clause is an unconstitutional constraint on the Water Authority’s right to petition the courts and exercise free speech, and an unlawful attempt to immunize MWD against illegal, predatory water rates.

Click here to read more: Court to Hear Appeals in Water Authority Litigation Over Illegal MWD Rates

 

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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