Water flows on the Shasta River have returned to normal following a warning from California officials to a group of Siskiyou County ranchers who likely diverted the water.
The Shasta River, which is one of the main tributaries to the Klamath River, was experiencing extremely low flows as of August 17 when the State Water Resources Control Board sent a cease-and-desist order to the Shasta Water Association, which is comprised of about 80 agricultural members. The order essentially gave the group 20 days to respond, but the water in the river resumed normal flows on August 24 (after this article was posted).
The Friends of Shasta River updated the situation by showing flows returning to 50 cubic feet per second:
Nice way to start the week. We are very near the 50cfs+6-8cfs of @CaliforniaDFW 1707 water. Thanks to @CaWaterBoards and @CA_DWR for your ongoing work protecting our public trust and supporting the needs of the @TheKarukTribe, @TheYurokTribe, and @HoopaTribe. pic.twitter.com/YlA6Le1kIj— Friends of the Shasta River (@ShastaRiver1) August 28, 2022
The water in the Klamath Watershed has experienced turmoil recently, with a landslide causing a massive fish kill following the McKinney Fire. It’s estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 fish were killed in the Klamath River when the slide dropped oxygen levels down to zero. With the Klamath River dam removal just around the corner, river activists fear that damage done to the waterways would be irreversible.
The Shasta River, one of the main tributaries to the Klamath River, is a nursery for federally protected salmon, which need approximately 50 cfs to survive. During the water flow shortage, that flow sat at just 14 cfs. The Yurok Tribe suspected the water was being diverted by the ranchers, but could not go on their property to investigate. Following the cease-and-desist order, the water resumed normal flows.
As the drought continues to intensify in Northern California, so do the water wars. The nearby Klamath River is set to begin the largest dam removal in the history of the United States, removing four dams to help the endangered salmon populations revered by the Yurok Tribe. The battle for water near the Oregon border doesn’t seem it will stop anytime soon.