NEVADA IRRIGATION DISTRICT (NID) IS HOLDING SALMON HOSTAGE AT HEMPHILL DAM TO AVOID CORRECTING NINE WATER RIGHTS VIOLATIONS THE STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD HAS DIRECTED NID TO CORRECT by Jack L. Sanchez, SARSAS President
Salmon are being held hostage by NID to pressure Foothill Water District (FWN) of which SARSAS is a member to withdraw its formal protest against NID to correct these water rights violations. New NID General Manager Remleh Scherzinger wrote: “Some have asked what our plan is for this site [Hemphill Dam] and that is a great question. We are currently negotiating with the Foothill Water Network regarding a filing with the State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) and Hemphill is caught in that process. I would imagine that as soon as those talks are complete we would begin working on a long-term solution to our problem.” He is clearing telling FWN to withdraw its protest in return for fish passage on Hemphill Dam. He is using salmon as a political ploy, hoping he does not need to correct these nine water rights violations. And there is no need for “a long term solution to our problem”. Fish passage at Hemphill could easily and quickly be corrected at a reasonable cost; talking of “a long term solution” is also a political ploy to magnify the extent of the fish passage project or dam removal. Chris Shutes, CSPA and Negotiator for FWN, wrote: “People have asked and opined about this, and I’d like to provide my own perspective. In 2009, the State Water Board (SWRCB) posted a notice that NID was petitioning to amend 9 of its water right permits and 4 of its water right licenses. Over the years, NID operations and facilities had changed, and the permits and licenses no longer accurately described them. The stated purpose of the petitions was to line up the language in the permits and licenses with current facilities and operations. The Foothills Water Network, a coalition of environmental groups which includes SARSAS and my organization, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), protested NID’s petitions. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and the National Marine Fisheries Services also protested (it wasn’t just the Network and its member groups).” It is a sad commentary on NID’s callous disregard for salmon and the environment of Auburn Ravine to see that salmon have become a pawn in NID’s negotiating process to avoid correcting its nine water rights violations. Former NID General Manager Ron Nelson worked for eight year to improve NID’s soiled image and had some success. New General Manager Remleh Scherzinger has done much to return NID to its former status as a maverick water contractor. Remember, NID has spent over $488,000 in August just on filing fees for its $160,000,000 proposed Parker Dam Project on Bear River designed to increase gigantically its bottom line at the expense once again of the environment. If NID ignores its environment responsibilities on Auburn Ravine, why should be given additional dams to operate?