Dry Weather and Low Flows Prompt Restrictions for Junior Water Rights Holders

By on June 23, 2020
Chinook salmon

Last week the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) sent notices of water unavailability to 110 junior water right holders in the Scott River basin in Siskiyou County, urging them to stop diverting.

Dry conditions are resulting in low flows and threatening the survival of coho salmon in the Scott River. The Board is temporarily halting diversions to leave more water instream and improve habitat and migratory conditions for salmon and steelhead in the Scott River and its tributaries.

“While there is an adequate supply of water in the watershed in wetter years, episodes of dry conditions are far more common,” said Jule Rizzardo, Assistant Deputy Director for Enforcement/Division of Water Rights. “Unfortunately, this is a year when water flows are insufficient to meet human demand and protect our endangered salmon population. Further action might be necessary, but at this point, the notices only affect a small percentage of right holders.”

Of the 803 water rights in the Scott River watershed, 148 are being asked to stop diverting including the largest right holder in the basin, the Scott Valley Irrigation District.

The Board’s action follows review of inflow projections and forecasts for future precipitation. The notices are likely to remain in effect until winter rains restore flows.

Those who illegally divert are subject to potential enforcement actions, including fines of up to $500 per day.

More information about water rights is available on the board website.