Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Carmel River steelhead teetering on extinction, August 2009

"Sierra Club and the Carmel River Steelhead Association (CRSA) have filed a lawsuit in federal court under the citizen enforcement provision of the Environmental Species Act (ESA). The lawsuit is seeking an immediate 35% reduction in diversions of water from the Carmel River in Monterey County by California-American Water Company.

The suit contends that as a result of the over pumping, the Carmel River steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) could become extinct...Numbers have been in a steady decline since 2001 despite annual rescue efforts by CRSA volunteers to move fish upstream as the river dries. Factors for decline for Carmel River steelhead are habitat blockages, dewatering from urban water diversions, habitat degradation, and agricultural and urban development on floodplains and riparian areas.

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) also found that CalAm had rights to divert only 3,376 acre-feet annually. The SWRCB stated that: “Cal-Am is diverting about 10,730 acre-feet annually from the Carmel River or its underflow without a valid basis of right.” However, for the last fourteen years Cal-Am has continued to divert up to 11,285 acre-feet annually.

Attorney Larry Silver said, “Many fish die, and a count done earlier this year found only 93 adult steelhead returned from the ocean to the river, a 75% decrease from previous years."

From Sierra Club Ventana Chapter:
Picture from Webrarian's photostream:

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