Letters to the Editor

Peter Drekmeier: Tuolumne measures are fine, but in-stream flows remain critical

Regarding “TID backs river proposal by San Francisco” (Page 3A, June 7), the Tuolumne River Trust is not opposed to the non-flow measures proposed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and endorsed by Turlock Irrigation District. However, we are skeptical that these measures, in the absence of adequate instream flows, will revive the Tuolumne River ecosystem.

Flow plays a critical role in the health of the river, influencing water temperature, dissolved oxygen, water quality and floodplain inundation, which provides critical rearing habitat for juvenile salmon and steelhead. Flows must be high enough at certain times to enable adequate in- and out-migration of ocean-dependent fish.

We encourage the development of comprehensive goals and objectives for the Tuolumne on which we can measure the success of programs aimed at restoring the fisheries. If these goals can be met with lower flows, then unimpaired flow requirements could be reduced. If the water agencies truly believe their proposed non-flow measures will work, it seems they should support this approach.

We want to avoid a situation in which resources are expended without achieving desired results. Simply checking off actions from a list, without a back-up plan if they are ineffective, is not a satisfactory solution to the challenges facing the Tuolumne.

Peter Drekmeier, Policy Director, Tuolumne River Trust