Agriculture

River flow hearing will resume in Stockton

Salmon swim up the Stanislaus River in Knights Ferry in November 2009.
Salmon swim up the Stanislaus River in Knights Ferry in November 2009. Modesto Bee file

Water suppliers from the Stanislaus River will get their turn Friday to rebut a proposal to devote more water to fish.

The State Water Resources Control Board will meet in Stockton to resume its hearing on proposed flows on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. The hearing started Nov. 29 in Sacramento and will move next week to Merced and Modesto. A decision could come next July.

Friday’s schedule includes the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts, which warn that the plan would cut deeply into farm income. The board also will hear from water managers for the cities of Manteca, Tracy and Stockton.

And the agenda lists the Tuolumne River Trust, which seeks even higher flows than the state proposes. It will make a joint presentation with the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

The water board staff projects a 14 percent drop in river supplies in average years, and 38 percent in “critically dry” years. The extra flows would happen from February through June, when most of the runoff is captured.

OID and SSJID will press their argument that the non-flow measures could do more for salmon than the state plan. They urge control of nonnative bass that prey on this species, along with spawning gravel restoration and other habitat improvements.

The districts spend about $1 million a year on fishery science “so we can understand our river, understand the numbers and understand how we can enact some positive change on the local ecosystem,” SSJID General Manager Peter Rietkerk told the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors last month.

At the first state board hearing session, several speakers from environmental and fishing groups urged higher river volumes. They said this would help keep the water cool enough for salmon and inundate floodplains that provide insects and other food for the fish.

“Clearly, we can see that … survival is persistently miserable at low flows,” said Jonathan Rosenfield, a conservation biologist at the Bay Institute.

John Holland: 209-578-2385

River flows

Stockton hearing

When: 9 a.m. Friday

Where: Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium, 525 N. Center St.

Merced hearing moves

Monday’s session on the river flow proposal has moved from the Multicultural Arts Center to the Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St. It will start at 9 a.m. Other hearing sessions are also at 9 a.m.:

Tuesday, Modesto: Modesto Centre Plaza, 1000 K St.

Jan. 3, Sacramento: California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, Coastal Hearing Room, 1001 I St., Sacramento

Each session will start with a presentation by the staff of the State Water Resources Control Board. Members of the general public then can speak for up to three minutes each. Scheduled speakers will follow with longer presentations.

Written public comment will be received until Jan. 17. More information is at www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights.

  Comments