LETTER: State Water Board rejects Reclamation’s Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan

Yesterday, the Executive Director of the State Water Resources Control Board sent a letter to Ernest Conant at the Bureau of Reclamation informing them that the State Water Board is rejecting Reclamation’s submitted Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan, citing insufficient information to make a well-informed decision.

The letter states, “Order 90-5 requires Reclamation to take actions reasonably within its control to protect winter-run Chinook salmon and other native species from elevated temperatures and other adverse conditions created by Reclamation’s operations on the Sacramento River. State Water Board staff repeatedly requested that Reclamation provide information on operational scenarios other than those proposed in Reclamation’s TMP that could allow for better temperature control. Unfortunately, Reclamation has failed to provide the requested information. This information is needed to inform adequate temperature management. Since Reclamation has declined to provide the information, the State Water Board does not have sufficient information to make a well-informed decision on Reclamation’s final TMP. We are therefore unable to approve the TMP, and object to the plan.”

The 13-page letter reminds Reclamation that in 2014 and 2015, temperatures were not maintained at protective levels below Shasta and Keswick Reservoirs, resulting in near total mortality of winter-run in those years and the near extinction of the species and this year’s hydrology is very similar to the hydrology the region faced in 2013, the year before temperature control was lost, and the operations proposed by Reclamation in its TMP are very similar to Reclamation’s 2013 operations, the letter states.  Furthermore, Reclamation’s own submitted estimates of temperature dependent mortality indicates these operations would result in a temperature dependent mortality of 28 percent, which is ‘concerning; to State Water Board staff considering the poor condition of winter-run Chinook salmon.

In the spirit of cooperative federalism, we expect that Reclamation will provide the information we requested. In order to be in a position to potentially improve temperature conditions this year, the State Water Board needs the requested analyses within 20 days from the date of this letter. If this information is provided timely, we will reevaluate the TMP and consider approval at that time.”

Read the letter here:

2020 SAC TMP response letter
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