Open Letter: The SWRCB continues to infringe on water rights

California State Water Resources Control Board and Staff:

Siskiyou County residents have recently received notices for conditional curtailments on the Shasta River. The SWRCB’s flow requirements are still excessively high and unjustified. The McBain and Trush study of 2013 estimated normal flows (even in low years) as 30-50 cubic feet per second (cfs). There were no recommended minimum flows for reaches 4 and 5 (McBain and Trush, pg. 107; 6.4 and 6.5). These lower reaches are what the SWRCB staff are using to recommend minimum flows. There is no biological study under the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation that justifies setting these minimum flows. One of the seven pillars of this model is Scientific Management, which states that wildlife management, use, and conservation should be based on sound scientific knowledge and principles. Without factual data, the SWRCB and its staff are not adhering to the requirements of the model. Water and wildlife are both protected under the public trust doctrine and must be fairly allocated to all. Special interest groups and tribes seem to believe they have a higher priority over others in our county.

The SWRCB continues to infringe on water rights. The failure of the SWRCB and its staff to fully understand the definition of a right, as opposed to a privilege, is extremely alarming. The ongoing attack on rights, under the guise of a false drought emergency declaration, should concern all citizens of the State of California. The Governor, SWRCB, and staff are fully aware that they can only justify this overreach by using a fictitious emergency order to maintain control. The overreach and apparent weaponization of the SWRCB is illegal and should be held accountable.

At a minimum, the SWRCB should drastically reduce the recommended minimum flow requirements. The staff recommendations are severely flawed, and I would question the motives of some staff members regarding the information they present to the board. The board is meant to provide oversight of the staff and their recommendations. The lack of oversight and the blind acceptance of staff recommendations will cause irreparable harm to our county and its economy. The minimum flow requirements should not exceed 30 cfs in the lower reaches of the Shasta River. The McBain and Trush average flow data is very clear and should not be manipulated to achieve an objective.

Jess Harris
Siskiyou County Resident

CC: NOAA Fisheries, CA Department of Fish and Wildlife

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