Opinion, Scott Valley, Siskiyou, South County

Letter Concerning Regulation of Minimum Flows


Members of the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board),

I am writing this letter today to express my concern regarding the regulation of minimum flows in the Scott and Shasta River Watersheds. There are three major concerns that I believe require attention before any decisions regarding minimum flows are made:

1. The removal of dams on the Klamath River presents a significant threat to the river’s health. The sediment resulting from this removal is expected to have a devastating impact on the river. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has already acknowledged that it may take a minimum of 15 years for the river to recover from this disruption. If this is indeed the case, we must consider how many native fish species will survive, if any at all. We are talking about minimum flows to protect the fish species in the river, while at the same time, moving forward with a project that is likely to kill the remaining native species.

2. Fish mortality in the Klamath River, not caused by fires and mudslides, has occurred at the river’s mouth due to unsuitable water temperatures. There has been little discussion about the fact that a substantial portion of water from the Trinity River is pumped over the mountains into the Sacramento Valley. Not all of this water is utilized by those with water rights; some is sold further south into a watershed where it does not naturally belong. The Trinity River water, being cold, could potentially help regulate temperatures at the mouth of the Klamath River and reduce salmon mortality if its flow were increased.

3. Illegal marijuana cultivation in Siskiyou County is contributing significantly to water usage and pollution problems. Illicit wells and unauthorized water diversion from ditches, creeks, and rivers are occurring at an alarming rate. Excessive amounts of water are being stolen and stored for use in these illegal operations. Furthermore, prohibited state and federal chemicals are being used and released into the watershed. If our goal is to maintain the health of our watersheds and the species inhabiting them, it is imperative to address and rectify this issue immediately.

These concerns must be addressed before any decisions regarding minimum flow rates are finalized. The decisions you make regarding minimum flows have a direct impact on the agricultural community and our county, placing us in a unique and challenging situation. They appear to be unfairly singled out as the primary cause of water flow issues. Without addressing these other critical issues first, it may seem as though you are imposing discriminatory restrictions on one particular group. As appointed, non-elected officials, you are not protected by qualified immunity and may be personally subject to legal action for discriminatory practices.

I strongly urge you to allow our community to take a leading role in working together to find solutions. I also recommend waiting for the resolution of Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo at the Supreme Court, as it raises questions about your authority in this matter. It would be counterproductive to establish minimum flows only to later discover that you lacked the authority to do so in the first place. Please take these considerations to heart and encourage the Siskiyou County community to collaborate in finding a resolution to this situation.


Jess Harris

Siskiyou County Resident 

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