Environmental groups file suit against feds, California farmers

Nov 12, 2015 1:22 PM by News Staff

A handful of environmental groups have sued the federal government and California farmers over the possible extinction of winter-run Chinook salmon.

Officials with the National Marine Fisheries Service say preliminary counts show hot, shallow waters from the drought killed most of California's juvenile winter-run Chinook before they made it out of the Sacramento River.

The lawsuit filed Monday by the National Resources Defense Council claims The Bureau of Reclamation unlawfully diverted limited water supplies from behind Shasta Dam for the use of corporate agriculture, instead of using the water to keep Chinook salmon alive below the Dam.

It is estimated that for the second year in a row 5 percent or less of the young fish survived California's drought.

“The federal government’s mismanagement of limited water supplies in the ongoing drought is a near-death blow for Chinook salmon and the thousands of people whose livelihood is tied to the salmon industry,” said Kate Poole, an attorney for the National Resources Defense Council.

On Monday, California Rice Commission CEO Tim Johnson replied to the allegations in a blog post, “laying the blame at the feet of rice farmers and waterfowl is both inaccurate and unfair. Once again, we hear the unproven innuendo that rice farmers waste water. That is simply not the case.”

Named in the lawsuit are hundreds of local water districts, including the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Princeton-Codora-Glenn Irrigation District, the Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District and the City of Redding.


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