Reclamation and partners synchronize Sacramento River water diversions to benefit salmon

By on October 27, 2020

Reclamation, working with the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors and federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, are implementing fall water operations to benefit salmon populations in the Sacramento River.

Reclamation is coordinating with the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors to voluntarily delay a portion of their water diversions from October 16-31 until November 1-23, allowing Reclamation to further reduce flows in the Sacramento River in mid-October. The delayed water diversions and corresponding early flow reductions are anticipated to prevent the dewatering of 2.2% of fall-run Chinook salmon redds (group of eggs in gravel nests), which is approximately 200 redds or 1 million eggs.

In turn, the revised schedule allows the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors to prolong the time period for rice decomposition in Sacramento Valley rice fields. Rice decomposition is an essential food source for Pacific Flyway waterfowl.

“This fall diversion schedule was coordinated in close collaboration with federal and state agencies as well as the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors; it highlights the importance of partnerships in water resource management,” said Regional Director Ernest Conant. “Reclamation greatly appreciates the teamwork and commitment necessary to act in real-time and deliver water in a manner that not only benefits fish and wildlife but also preserves cold water in Shasta Reservoir through the end of October for temperature requirements.”

The fall water operation is being implemented in accordance with the 2019 Biological Opinions for the Coordinated Operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project.

“I applaud the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors and our agency partners for developing this plan to quickly adapt to changing water conditions in a way that ensures efficient water supply management and benefits fish and wildlife habitat,” said Paul Souza, Regional Director of Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Southwest division. “This is truly a win-win situation.”

In addition to delaying water diversions to November for salmon populations, the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are helping nearby National Wildlife Refuges. Water for Sacramento, Delevan, and Colusa National Wildlife Refuges is being delivered through the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District facilities as birds migrate down the Pacific Flyway into the Sacramento Valley.

“The Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are fully committed to multi-benefit water management along the Sacramento River,” said President Roger Cornwell. “We appreciate the collaboration and coordination with Reclamation and the fishery agencies to carefully manage water for the benefit of both winter- and fall-run salmon as part of our salmon recovery efforts and to serve important water for birds along the Pacific Flyway.”

For additional information, call or email Reclamation Bay-Delta Office Manager, David Mooney at 916-414-2400; dmmooney@usbr.gov.