Huffman opposes latest Westlands lawsuit over Trinity/Klamath River protections
Lawsuit seeks to prevent the release of water intended to help Klamath River salmon survive the drought
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today released the following statement responding to Westlands Water District’s lawsuit challenging the release of water intended to help Klamath River salmon survive the drought:
"Here we go again. As preposterous as it is for San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts to attempt to lay claim to Humboldt County’s desperately needed Trinity River water, it’s no surprise. The Westlands Water District and their allies have been relentless in pursuing an agenda of stealing water from other regions and gutting vital protections for California’s economically and culturally vital salmon populations. When courts or state and federal agencies uphold the laws that protect North Coast fisheries and the many people and jobs that depend on them, you can always expect a Westlands lawsuit -- in addition to their never-ending lobbying in Washington and Sacramento and the constant drumbeat of distortions from their PR machine.
“The Department of the Interior’s decision to make emergency releases of cold water from Trinity Lake to avoid an economically and environmentally devastating fish kill in the Trinity and lower Klamath Rivers is the right thing to do, and it will be upheld in court just as it was last year and the year before that.
“This water does not belong to Westlands or the CVP. As the Interior Department’s Solicitor acknowledged in a legal opinion last year, a 1955 Act of Congress and subsequent federal water contract guarantee Humboldt County and downstream water users the benefit of this water.
“Our salmon fisheries are vital to the economy of the North Coast of California and to the traditions and subsistence needs of our Native American tribes. Releasing these cold water flows into the Trinity and lower Klamath Rivers will help prevent a potential disaster in the coming days. The massive fish kill of 2002 should be a constant reminder of what happens when science, environmental laws, and critical fishery requirements are ignored to placate powerful irrigation interests. I commend the Interior Department for doing the right thing, following the law, and taking action to prevent a repeat of 2002.”
Huffman was joined in denouncing the lawsuit by leaders from the salmon fishing community:
"Let’s be clear that both my replacement Tim Sloane and I are outraged by yet another water grab by Westlands," said Zeke Grader, Executive Director Emeritus of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "Despite what certain presidential candidates may say, this water is desperately needed for California’s environment and its fisheries."
"To think that industrial irrigators 400 miles away have a stronger claim to that water than salmon, and the fishermen and women who depend on them, is outrageous," said Tim Sloane, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.
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