The California State Water Resources Control Board has approved an emergency regulation to establish minimum flow requirements for the Scott and Shasta Rivers in order to protect threatened fish species and ensure water supplies for human needs. This is the third year in a row such emergency regulations have been adopted due to ongoing drought conditions.
The Scott and Shasta Rivers are important tributaries of the Klamath River in Northern California. They provide crucial water sources for communities in Siskiyou County and habitat for endangered coho salmon as well as culturally and commercially significant Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.
While precipitation last year was above average, it was not enough to alleviate the impacts of recent unprecedented droughts. Flows in both rivers dropped below protective levels set by previous emergency regulations. As a result, fisheries and watershed ecosystems continue to be negatively affected.
The new emergency regulation aims to balance the water needs of local communities and agricultural users with protecting imperiled fish species. It establishes minimum flow requirements but also encourages voluntary conservation efforts that could preclude the need for curtailments.
The regulation comes after extensive public engagement including a petition from tribal and conservation groups requesting permanent minimum flows and an eight hour public hearing in August. Multiple stakeholder meetings and listening sessions have been held to solicit input and keep interested parties informed of potential changes.
The State Water Board says it will continue working with all parties to find collaborative solutions that address both community and environmental water needs in the Scott and Shasta watersheds. Its goal is to preserve water resources for present and future generations.
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