Congressmen Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and Tom McClintock, R-Roseville, are talking the Bureau of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to task for what they are calling a “gross mismanagement” of the Stanislaus River.
In a letter the two fired off Wednesday they are requesting the two agencies devise a new plan for reservoir and river releases this year to conserve water as long as possible in New Melones Reservoir and Tulloch Reservoir and to provide certainty water will flow in the Stanislaus River through the end of the year.
The staff of the two Congressmen have had discussions with the two agencies over the acute challenges of meeting the needs of irrigators, power generation, recreation, and the environment.
On Wednesday they noted the Bureau and Wildlife Service are “pursuing a course of action that leaves no water available during some of the hottest months in the Central Valley and provides no options for returning fall-salmon is a gross mismanagement of the river system and a failure to avert a preventable disaster.”
The pair noted strictly following the operation plan in place will put New Melones in dead pool status by September, meaning it would have less than 80,000 acre feet of water that would be below outlets. That, in turn, would cut off water to the Stanislaus River. New Melones is designed to hold 2.4 million acre feet of water.
They were critical of a Bureau decision last April and May that drained 60,000 acre feet of water from New Melones for “environmental reasons.” They noted it was enough water to meet a year’s need of a city of 500,000 people.
The Bureau, as the state was warning the fourth year of drought could be the severest yet, ramped up releases from New Melones last week.