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Drought: Tough Choices For California Water Managers

  Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News

A federal agency is releasing water from a northern California reservoir to help a salmon run on the Klamath River. The extreme drought conditions are making for tough choices. 

The added water flowing into the Klamath River comes from the Trinity Reservoir. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation water release is intended to help the fall run of adult Chinook salmon, which has entered the lower Klamath to spawn earlier than normal.  

Louis Moore with the Bureau of Reclamation said the drought has produced low and warm water conditions similar to those that caused a massive salmon die-off in 2002.  

He said every acre-foot of water is critical during the drought and river and fishery conditions will be monitored during the emergency release.  

"Water supply throughout the state is at a lower stage than in years past,” said Moore. “We could look comparatively this year, last year, and we would be literally, in some cases, less than half of what we were last year."  

Moore said after three years of drought, it was a tough decision to release the water to help the fish run.  But the action is taken only after meeting with all affected water users, from agriculture to native tribes.

 

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