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Water Contractor Nevada Irrigation District Is Holding Salmon Hostage at Hemphill Dam,Playing Politics with Salmon, to Avoid Correcting Water Rights Violations

Salmon are being held hostage by NID to pressure Foothill Water District (FWN), of which Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead is a member, to withdraw its formal protest against NID to correct these water rights violations. “Some have asked what our plan is for this site (Hemphill Dam) and that is a great question,” NID General Manager Remleh Scherzinger wrote. “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 clearly 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. “People have asked and opined about this, and I’d like to provide my own perspective,” Chris Shutes, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and negotiator for FWN, wrote. “In 2009, the State Water Board (SWRCB) posted a notice that NID was petitioning to amend nine of its water right permits and four 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. Sadly, NID is not the good custodian of natural resources it was under the leadership of former General Manager Ron Nelson. Former NID General Manager Ron Nelson worked for eight years 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 spent over $488,000 in August just on filing fees for its $160 million 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 it be given additional dams to operate? Sadly, NID is not the good custodian of natural resources it was under the leadership of former General Manager Ron Nelson.

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