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OT: Eel River

Posted by J_72 
OT: Eel River
July 04, 2014 03:32PM
Just came back from a few days of camping and river fun. The Eel is very low, with huge patches of blue-green algae floating around, although there are still spots that are good for swimming with little algae. A couple of spots around French's Camp are good for swimming or dipping. Not sure how much that will hold up by the time ROTR comes around. Very dry up there and it shows with the river. Hopefully the law of respect and balance will prevail among the patrons of ROTR.

Peace
Re: OT: Eel River
July 05, 2014 05:20PM
Nooooo, I was looking forward to cooling off in the river.
Re: OT: Eel River
July 06, 2014 02:22AM
I'm no biologist, but it was green in a lot of areas and it's only the beginning of July. We were still able to find a good spot and take a dip. Hopefully you will be able to do the same!

Peace
Re: OT: Eel River
July 07, 2014 09:52PM
California Dept. of Fish and Game releases new numbers to CNBC:

Scott Bauer presented data to CNBC indicating that growers are drawing more than 156,000 gallons of water from a single tributary of the Eel River, in Mendocino County, EVERY DAY.

And this is just one, single tributary to the Eel. Think about the entire Eel, the Matole, the Trinity, the Klammath. Adios salmon and other fish, reptile, bird, and mammal species. For a community that supposedly cares so much about the environment, they sure care about money a lot more.
Re: OT: Eel River
July 07, 2014 10:24PM
There are so many issues about the grow business from tax-free income to environmental damage but lest I make even more enemies on this forum or be wrongly targeted as some conservative GOP.....

Peace
Re: OT: Eel River
July 07, 2014 11:12PM
Just one more example of why it is imperative for California to vote for the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana for adults.

Save the planet, grow a plant.
Re: OT: Eel River
July 08, 2014 06:18PM
Quote
jcom
California Dept. of Fish and Game releases new numbers to CNBC:

Scott Bauer presented data to CNBC indicating that growers are drawing more than 156,000 gallons of water from a single tributary of the Eel River, in Mendocino County, EVERY DAY.

And this is just one, single tributary to the Eel. Think about the entire Eel, the Matole, the Trinity, the Klammath. Adios salmon and other fish, reptile, bird, and mammal species. For a community that supposedly cares so much about the environment, they sure care about money a lot more.

How much water is diverted into the russian river though? How much water is wasted on lawns, golf courses etc? We all need to do our part....
Re: OT: Eel River
July 08, 2014 08:50PM
It's all about the PGE Potter Valley bypass tunnel. Google it.
Re: OT: Eel River
July 09, 2014 02:54AM
Lawns don't get watered here in Willits, unless you use what you can within your limit or get fined, and that comes from the water supply, not the Eel. Wineries and golf courses, being legal, are regulated within water usage limits as well. A few grape farmers have turned to dry watering due to drought. I support full legalization, but I also feel part of the issue is the level of denial within the herb culture. There are numerous issues to be discussed, but that discourse won't take place until the denial stops.

[www.npr.org]
Re: OT: Eel River
July 09, 2014 02:55AM
Quote
Malolo
It's all about the PGE Potter Valley bypass tunnel. Google it.

That's not all it's about.

Peace
Re: OT: Eel River
July 09, 2014 11:35PM
Quote
Collie4Nyah
How much water is diverted into the russian river though? How much water is wasted on lawns, golf courses etc? We all need to do our part....

...and vineyards. It's all bad....just getting a lot worse.
Re: OT: Eel River
July 10, 2014 02:15AM
ummm, I don't think the low water levels on the Eel are due to cannabis growers...
Re: OT: Eel River
July 10, 2014 08:33AM
156,000 gallons per day, off of one tributary, certainly doesn't help. Come on man, let's not BS here. I'm a local, I am (sort of) a part of it even though I choose to focus on indoor and recirculating systems, it's all a strain on the environment one way or another. But if you're growing 99 giant 5 - 10 pounders, those girls are getting their thirsts quenched somehow. It's the dirty little not so secret, secret. Let's just be honest, it's a problem.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/10/2014 08:34AM by jcom.
Re: OT: Eel River
July 10, 2014 10:21PM
I went to High Sierra last weekend and the was a bunch of water in the Feather River. I wish the Eel had as much.
Re: OT: Eel River
July 11, 2014 03:59AM
The Feather like the Russian is also dam controlled allowing for sustained summer flows. If it weren't for dams, rivers like the Russian would barely flow at all in the summer. The Sourh fork of the Eel (at Frenches Camp) is unregulated and a taste of the drought in its raw form.
While the drought is obviously the main culprit for the current historic low flows, growing user demand including from increased local population of growers and otherwise have all significantly contributed to the problem. Not only in surface flows but fertilizer runoff feeds algal growth including the highly toxic blue green types. These are the facts that I think are hard for people sometimes to fully acknowledge.
Conservation and ecologically sound practices are the solution regardless of the land use practice.
Re: OT: Eel River
July 11, 2014 04:01AM
Anyone headed to NOrthern Lights Festival… Please let us know
Re: OT: Eel River
July 11, 2014 05:46PM
yes jcom, it is a problem & I don't want to make light of it.

cb-liveup: you make excellent points, especially regarding the fertilizer runoff which is a bigger problem to me.

definitely everyone needs to do their part in being conscious and sustainable with their resource use!
Re: OT: Eel River
July 12, 2014 07:02PM
Here is a link to an excellent article about the Eel River that was in the Sacramento Bee on July 6...........

[www.sacbee.com]
Re: OT: Eel River
July 13, 2014 06:14AM
Quote
J_72
Lawns don't get watered here in Willits, unless you use what you can within your limit or get fined, and that comes from the water supply, not the Eel. Wineries and golf courses, being legal, are regulated within water usage limits as well. A few grape farmers have turned to dry watering due to drought. I support full legalization, but I also feel part of the issue is the level of denial within the herb culture. There are numerous issues to be discussed, but that discourse won't take place until the denial stops.

[www.npr.org]
I agree about denial, and discourse being long overdue....

HOWEVER, one must realize that water is and always will be a HUGE political divide in California.
Furthermore, the big agriculture lobby is very influential when it comes to state water policy.
Another factor when it comes to agriculture, state subsidies, many of which are NOT for water efficient crops, nor high-yielding, resilient crops that perform consistently year after year.

YES, water conservation, or lack of water conservation, amongst cannabis cultivators, is part of the problem....
But, in no way shape or form is it as much of a contributing factor as other crops.

And as far as the lawns and golf courses i mentioned, that's great that there are fines and other consequences in SOME SMALL towns, such as willitsville, but those same laws and regulations need to be implemented in the large towns, cities And communities, that consume MUCH more water, and have A LOT more political influence statewide.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/13/2014 06:40AM by Collie4Nyah.
Re: OT: Eel River
July 13, 2014 06:30AM
Quote
mamacali
Here is a link to an excellent article about the Eel River that was in the Sacramento Bee on July 6...........

[www.sacbee.com]

EXCELLENT post! EVERYONE should read this:

Quote

In the third-largest watershed in California, the Eel River rambles through some of the state’s most stunning landscape. Nothing about the river, with its clusters of redwoods along its sandy banks, hints at the looming battle over its blue-green water.

In about three years, though, a federal commission will begin reviewing an application by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to re-license its Potter Valley Project. The project includes a mile-long tunnel that began diverting Eel water to the Russian River more than a hundred years ago.

That Eel water becomes part of the Russian River flow now relied upon by 650,000 people in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties and by farmers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties who irrigate millions of dollars’ worth of crops. Water users say the diversion project is vital for them. Environmental groups, however, want the project’s two dams removed to restore access to many miles of prime fish-spawning territory on the upper Eel, saying the project’s presence undermines recovery of fish in the river.

This license review follows more than a century of harm – including extensive timber harvesting, the Potter Valley Project dams and destruction of an estuary that functioned as a nursery for juvenile salmon. This has imperiled the river’s fish: The National Marine Fisheries Service has classified coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Eel as threatened.

“There is nothing quite so bad as preventing the salmon and steelhead from gaining access to their spawning grounds,” Gordon Becker, a senior scientist with the Oakland-based Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration, told me. “In some cases, political circumstances trump the fish habitat argument for removing a dam, at least for a while, and in those cases we try to do mitigation to leave the fisheries in the best condition we can.”

This is a quintessential California drama. You have two of the state’s loveliest rivers, environmentalists, PG&E, water agencies and a growing, thirsty band of powerful urban and agricultural water users.

At the heart of this disagreement is the strikingly beautiful Eel, named by settlers who mistook the river’s Pacific lamprey for eels. Though the river is not well known to many Californians because it flows through sparsely populated land in Northern California, the Eel is a mighty waterway: Its watershed includes portions of Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Glenn counties, and, in all of California, only the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers’ watersheds are larger than the Eel’s.

The Potter Valley Project, consisting today of the diversion tunnel and the Cape Horn and Scott dams, has been draining water from the Eel River since 1908. The Eel water diverted to the Russian River amounts to 1.8 percent of the river’s flow at its mouth and 22 percent of the Eel’s main-stem fork where the water is diverted, according to PG&E. Scott Dam, according to federal estimates, blocks fish from 100 to 150 miles of spawning habitat.

Here is how the diversion project works: It generates little electricity, enough for about 6,900 homes, but delivers Eel water for hundreds of farmers in Potter Valley, about 100 miles north of San Francisco. Downstream, the Russian River – with its infusion from the Eel – is relied upon as a crucial municipal water source for many communities from Mendocino County on the north to Marin County on the south, and as irrigation water for vineyards and other crops in the Russian River Valley.

For a sense of the value of crops in the region, consider this: Sonoma County’s 2013 crop production was valued at $848 million, with wine grapes constituting $605 million of that total. At the same time, more people have moved to the area: Sonoma County’s population is up by 142 percent since 1970, Mendocino County by 71 percent and Marin County by 25 percent.

During the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission review of the project, those affected – including PG&E, cities, irrigation districts, Indian tribes, farmers, vintners, fishermen, ranchers and environmental groups – will be voicing their views. One issue certain to be raised by diversion foes is their argument that the Eel region has never been compensated for its diverted water.

In the tug-of-war, Friends of the Eel wants the project’s dams removed on the grounds that they interfere with recovery of the fish population, while water users such as the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Potter Valley Irrigation District oppose removing the dams, arguing it would inflict great economic damage on municipal and agricultural users dependent on the diverted water. Whether there is a way to deal effectively with both concerns will play out in years to come.

Environmentalists tend to see what has happened to the Eel as part of a larger picture.

“The entire state and the West have been re-plumbed to deliver water to people who can pay for it,” Becker said. “Environmentalists can’t afford to pay for water the fish need, but fortunately the laws of California mandate that fish get the first water.’’

Becker, whose 2009 study for the California State Coastal Conservancy found the Eel’s steelhead and rainbow trout in a perilous state, added: “This issue is more than 100 years old and the proportions of the problem are staggering. Look at this like the canary in the mine. If a stream can’t support fish, it can’t support other life, including us. That’s why we have the Endangered Species Act.’’

Becker made his comments as I set out to talk to organizations and water experts in an attempt to assess whether the project is headed for litigation or a possible compromise.

My look into the conflict over the Eel was prompted by my admiration for the river: Since the 1990s, I have camped with my family in state parks along the river. I know how the Eel looks at dawn, dusk and midnight. I know how cold its deep pools are on a hot summer day. And if I close my eyes, I can hear the river’s murmurings.

Loving the Eel as I do, I wish the diversion project had never been built. But I am a realist and tend to believe those who say they doubt the diversion will be halted completely, given how many influential municipal and agricultural entities have come to depend on it. So let’s hope the federal relicensing process – leading to a 2022 decision – can be a catalyst for a compromise that would result in improved fish habitat and an approach acceptable to all sides.

Of particular interest is what I heard from experts who have been involved in some of the state’s major water wars, including the fight over siphoning Trinity River water into the Sacramento River; the battle on the Klamath River; and court fights over water in Mono Lake and the Owens Valley.
First, consider the view of Dick Butler, who recently retired as the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service’s supervisor overseeing much of the Eel. During his 18-year tenure, his agency issued two opinions on the Eel and Russian rivers – one in 2002 that considerably reduced Eel diversions and another in 2008 requiring lower flows on the Russian in the interest of creating better salmon habitat there.

Butler said that “whether through the Eel River Forum or other collaborative efforts, I have faith people can come to an agreement, balancing their interests and the use of the water in the Eel. When people understand the needs of fish, they usually want to do the right thing.”

In the case of the Trinity River, Congress authorized the electricity-producing diversion of water to the Sacramento River in 1955. When Trinity Dam was constructed near Weaverville a decade later, “an average of 82 percent of the Trinity Basin’s water volume was diverted into the Sacramento Basin,” said Scott McBain, a hydrology consultant who for 25 years has represented the Hoopa Valley tribe, which relies on salmon from the Trinity. He added, “When the dam came in, flows were reduced, the river changed and the salmon population started to plummet.”

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals eventually upheld a U.S. Interior Department decision made in 2000 that only about 52 percent of the Trinity could be diverted, and since then work has been done restoring fish habitat, McBain said. Each year, he added, flows are set by federal, state and tribal agencies, which consult with Trinity River stakeholders.

Looking at the Trinity outcome, McBain said he thinks a resolution could be reached on the Eel. “The first thing is to develop a science-based solution that results in an improvement in the river and tries to strike a balance between water usage and the fish,” McBain said. “The second part is implementing it: So much depends on the decision-making process and how individuals work together.”

On the Klamath River, which flows from southern Oregon to the ocean, court fights dragged on for years. Finally, 42 parties signed agreements in 2010 calling for removal of four dams, with the costs to be paid for by PacifiCorp ratepayers and the state of California; guaranteed water deliveries for farmers; and habitat restoration, said Curtis Knight, a CalTrout conservation director. Legislation approving these agreements is pending in Congress.

The trigger for the agreements was a federal court ruling mandating that PacifiCorp, which owns the dams, build fish ladders to enable fish to get around the dams to spawn, Knight said. That cost proved enormous, and settlement talks got underway.

“We found a way to sit down and work out our differences that wasn’t focused on the courts, and that seems to be working out fantastically,” Knight said. “It is remarkable to see the tribes, farmers, ranchers, conservation groups and fishermen all as a team saying, ‘This is the right thing to do, and yeah, we gave up some things, but it’s the right thing to do.’ ”

East of the Sierra Nevada, bitter fights over water that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power took from the Owens Valley and streams in the Mono Lake Basin lasted for decades. Today an agreement among environmental groups, Inyo County and the L.A. water department requires flows in the Lower Owens River and other habitat improvements; in the Mono Lake Basin, a recent settlement “requires DWP to build infrastructure and collaboratively manage their facilities to provide more natural creek flows to improve fish habitat,” said Peter Vorster, a consultant to the Mono Lake Committee and also a consultant to the Sierra Club and the Owens Valley Committee for the Lower Owens River Project.

Vorster, a hydrologist for The Bay Institute in San Francisco, added: “Nothing ever succeeded in California water fights without litigation or the threat of litigation. But once stakeholders are willing to go through a consensus process and develop a common understanding of what the science is and what it means if you do this or that, you have the basis for a successful conclusion.

“Whenever water agencies have to change how they have been operating for 50, 80, 100 years, they aren’t going to change in five to 10 years. You have to be incredibly patient, grit your teeth and hope you write a good enough agreement to protect your interests. If you don’t have that kind of staying power, don’t even bother.”

The potential for consensus on the Eel may exist in the respected Eel River Forum, an effort by CalTrout’s Darren Mierau to bring the affected parties together. The forum’s 22 members include the Sonoma County Water Agency, PG&E, the Potter Valley Irrigation District, Indian tribes, state and federal agencies and environmental groups.

Mierau, CalTrout’s North Coast regional manager, told me: “The river needs help. There is such a great opportunity for a huge recovery of the Eel.”

In the years that come, I hope the magnificent Eel does get that help – through a compromise that finances recovery of the fish in exchange for granting at least some of what is sought by those now using the diverted Eel water.
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