In 1980, a water adjudication on the Scott River awarded the US Forest Service minimum flows to protect salmon and steelhead. In August, those flows are supposed to be 40cfs, but – as Felice Pace at the Klamblog discovered via an unnamed whistleblower – the Scott River is way, way below those minimum flows.

In fact, both the Scott and Shasta Rivers are almost wholly dewatered – and this despite the fact they’re populated by endangered Coho salmon.

Making matters worse is California Fish & Game’s willingness to look the other way as Siskiyou County ranchers and agriculture hammer salmon populations – even after those same populations were listed and (supposedly) received federal protection.

It’s one more example of Siskiyou County’s crazy inbred politics, where extreme ideology serves as a substitute for facts, science and (dare we say it) reality.

This lengthy excerpt is from Pace’s Klamblog post on the Scott & Shasta’s flows, though the whole post is worthwhile reading for any taxpayer who wonders what current stupidity is going to require salvaging in the near future – at the cost his or her tax dollars:

The Shasta and Scott are spawning grounds for most of the Fall Chinook produced in the Upper Klamath River watershed; the Scott has the most Coho. If spawners do not reach their natal streams, Klamath River salmon production will be low and the impact on tribal, commercial and sport fishing – and related economic activity – will be great.

Here is flow data for the Shasta from the US Geological Service ~

* Early on October 11th Shasta River flow declined to nearly 6 cubic feel per second. The flow then became too low to measure for several hours. http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=11517500

* The minimum daily flow recorded during the 2008 water year was 14 cfs.

* The lowest minimum mean flow during August for the period of record (1934-2008) was 8.35 in 1939.

From this data we conclude ~

THE SHASTA RIVER CURRENTLY IS EXPERIENCING THE LOWEST RECORDED FLOW DURING AUGUST SINCE FLOW RECORDING BEGAN IN 1934!

Precipitation at Yreka in the Shasta River Valley during 2008 was 77% of long-term mean annual precipitation. This is a dry year but not a drought.

The flow situation in the Scott is just as bad or worse ~

* On August 14th flow at the Scott River gauge operated by the USGS was less than 2 cubic feet per second (cfs).

* The lowest mean flow for the period of record during August was 5.52 cfs in 2002. The lowest daily mean flow in August was 3.4 cfs also in 2001.

From this information KlamBlog concludes ~

THE SCOTT RIVER CURRENTLY IS EXPERIENCING THE LOWEST RECORDED FLOW DURING AUGUST SINCE FLOW RECORDING BEGAN!

The rest of Pace’s article makes for interesting reading – especially when he notes that Fish & Game and other agencies are spending $500,000 to fund “improvements” for diversions (screening a diversion), but nothing is being done about flows.

That sounds about right given the backwards politics of the area. You don’t have to scientist to know that salmon and steelhead need something to survive, and it’s wet.

All the “diversion improvements” in the world – which could easily be construed as another giveaway to ag interests – won’t matter one bit if the water’s gone.