Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Groundwater Planning comes to the Klamath River Basin: Are You Ready?

Groundwater planning is getting underway in the Scott Valley, Shasta Valley, Butte Valley and Tule Lake Basin. The groundwater management plans developed for these groundwater basins may well determine the future of the Klamath River and whether Klamath Salmon, and in particular Klamath River Coho Salmon, will survive. Because this planning is critical, all those who care about the Klamath River and Klamath Salmon should participate in developing at least one of the four groundwater management plans.

The Scott River's dewatered bed near Fort Jones with irrigation via groundwater extraction
in view. If done properly, groundwater management plans should end stream dewatering. 

The plans are being developed pursuant to California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). As is its right under SGMA, Siskiyou County Government has taken the lead in developing the plans and the agencies that will do the planning. Other potential players (including tribes which manage water) have apparently not chosen to seek seats on the planning bodies, known as Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs).

Because of the work of clean water, streamflow and river advocates, including the work of Klamath Riverkeeper, SGMA includes provisions which, if properly implemented through locally-developed groundwater management plans, will protect streamflows and fisheries from the "undesirable results" of groundwater extraction. But Siskiyou County can not be counted on to protect these Public and Tribal Trust Resources. Therefore it will be up to citizens to assure that the provisions of SGMA are properly implemented in and through the groundwater management plans for Scott Valley, Shasta Valley, Butte Valley and Tule Lake Basin. Especially if the tribes do not get seats at the planning table, citizens must be involved if Public and Tribal Trust Resources are going to be protected and sustained. 

While organizing and coordination by Klamath Riverkeeper and others is expected, KlamBlog urges all those who care about the Klamath River and Klamath Salmon to prepare to participate in at least one of these planning efforts. A good way to begin is to attend the webinar titled:

Beginner's Guide to Groundwater Planning

Sponsored by the Clean Water Fund and conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the webinar is being offered first on Thursday May 18th from noon until one PM. Register at this link:
SGMA contains strong provisions assuring the public's right to participate. To recieve notices about the Siskiyou County led SGMA plans you want to track as they are developed, send an email message to Siskiyou County's Resource Specialist Elizabeth Nielsen <>. Tell Elizabeth which groundwater plans you would like to be informed about and ask her to notify you of all opportunities for public input. You do not need to be a Siskiyou County resident to participate in these planning efforts. 
The recent history of the Klamath River demonstrates once again that, while tribal governments and salmon fishermen will do some of the work, independent river citizens must be vigilant and involved if we are going to be sure our River and Klamath Salmon survive and recover. All governments need citizen oversight to keep them on the right road and none more than Siskiyou County Government. Please decide now that you are going to participate in at least one of these groundwater planning efforts. And to prepare please register for and attend the webinar.
The dewatered mouth of Shakleford Creek. If done properly, groundwater 
management plans should make it possible for salmon to access 
spawning grounds in creeks like this each and every year.