The dry year and reduced flows in the Sacramento River System are challenging the ability for water resources managers to serve water for cities and rural communities, farms, wildlife refuges, fish and recreation.
Part of the challenge has been the inordinate focus on temperature management in the upper part of the river below Shasta Lake. As we have all seen countless times before, a focus on one species or in this case one aspect (temperature) of water management is not a path forward for the long-term, successful recovery of salmon, nor does it advance multi-benefit water management or help serve water for all these important purposes in the region.
To be sure, temperature management for incubating salmon is an important part of the salmon life-cycle that deserves our collective attention and improvement; yet, as the graph below shows, for salmon to be successful, we need to address every salmon life-stage and we need to better understand the tradeoffs and consequences for both the economy and the environment when only one element of the life-cycle is addressed. For example, the focus on temperature management this year will have an impact on important water deliveries to both farms and the lands supporting birds along the Pacific Flyway and other terrestrial species, including ricelands and wildlife refuges. This shows that solely focusing on one aspect of the system at the expense of others is not a good long-term water policy for California.
On the other hand, water resources managers along the Sacramento River are working on salmon recovery 365 days a year as part of a comprehensive Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program to address every freshwater life stage for salmon in a way that will continually improve conditions for salmon in the region, even during dry years. We have seen that this comprehensive and balanced approach seems to work well for salmon in places such as Butte Creek. To show the extent of the Sacramento River system and the various efforts that have been advanced and are underway to help recover salmon, we encourage you to click on and read the following document that describes these salmon recovery actions in more detail.
Click below to see the full document: