The state’s controversial plan to boost river flows will go before the boards of supervisors in Stanislaus and Merced counties Tuesday.
Officials from the State Water Resources Control Board can expect skeptical audiences as they present their thinking behind the proposal for the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.
Both meetings — Merced in the afternoon, Stanislaus in the evening — can be viewed live online.
Reservoir releases would roughly double from February through June each year under the Sept. 15 proposal. Supporters say this would help salmon and other fish in the lower rivers and reduce salinity in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where many Californians draw their water.
Critics say the releases would happen during months that are crucial for capturing storm runoff and Sierra Nevada snowmelt for farms and cities. They warn of lost jobs and income, increased pumping of stressed groundwater and less cheap hydropower.
The state board seeks 40 percent of pre-dam flows as a “starting point,” but the volume could range from 30 percent to 50 percent depending on conditions at the time. Some environmental groups have urged 60 percent, arguing that diversions have done great damage to the rivers and Delta.
The state board had set a Nov. 15 deadline for public comment, but it has been extended to Jan. 17 at the request of opponents. They also have sought meetings like Tuesday’s and one last month with the Stanislaus County Water Advisory Committee.
The state board plans to hold formal hearings in Modesto and Sacramento before a final vote, possibly in spring 2017.
John Holland: 209-578-2385
HOW TO ATTEND
Merced County Board of Supervisors: 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, county administration building, 2222 M St., Merced. Webcast is at www.co.merced.ca.us.
Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto. Webcast is at www.stancounty.com.