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Crisis In Court: Mega-farms Trying to Seize Salmon Water

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
16 August 2013, 12:05 PM
Court hearings this week may decide fate of Klamath/Trinity River salmon
Local fishing communities depend on healthy salmon runs. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

This is the time of year when Chinook salmon head back up the Klamath/Trinity River system to spawn—if they have abundant, cold water.

But this year—this week—powerful business interests are in court trying to seize that water, putting tens of thousands of salmon, and an entire generation of their offspring, in peril.

Here’s why:

Because California faces drought this year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec) has developed a plan to release extra water from dams along the Trinity River (a tributary of the Klamath) to prevent another disaster like the ‘Fish Kill of 2002.’ Also a drought year, 2002 saw the Klamath running low, slow and with high temperatures. The Bush administration prevented water from being released, leading to a massive die-off of adult Chinook salmon, one of the worst fish kills in U.S. history. Coastal communities dependent on those salmon suffered $200 million losses.

Fast forward to this year: Corporate agricultural interests, led by the powerful Westlands Water District in California’s Central Valley, have sued to block water releases that will protect salmon. This despite the fact that more than half the water from the Trinity River is already diverted to industrial agriculture.

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, represented by Earthjustice, intervened last week in defense of BuRec’s plan to protect the salmon run. A 3-day hearing this week will determine the salmon’s fate.

“Healthy salmon runs are the sustainable lifeblood of Northern California coastal fishing communities,” explains Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman. “But without enough water in the river for salmon to survive, these resources will disappear.”

Stay tuned.

Stop another disaster please

Protect the salmon! Save them for the orcas, they need them more than we do. STOP messing with our ecosystem.

It's getting to where we're going to have to fight for the survival of earth. An old Israeli saying, "One candle can burn a thousand cornfields."

But then we'd have to deal with air pollution, quite the conundrum!

I don't think we have to fight for survival of the earth, but we may need to start fighting for the survival of our own species and all other species on this earth.

Some cultures believe that the earth is alive, our Mother Earth. She appears slow to respond based on how we view things but we have been here for mere seconds. In watching nature, which is what we see of her, we see constant change. I don't know that we can kill her,I hope not. She will change, and is changing, in a way that will some day remove us through our actions and her response to those actions. Doesn't look like we as a species are ready for the gift we live in.
It's just a shame that those of us that know these violations to Mother Earth aren't sustainable, have to watch as we figure out ways to fight them, and fight them we will.

Nature is a precious gift. Humans have already destroyed so much of the earth in the name of greed. The mission to save the salmon from the actions of large multinational companies is yet one more example of greed versus nature; hence, the sustainability of life. The choice is obvious for all good- minded and intelligent people. We can no longer be silent and complacent; we must protect our planet and its inhabitants. Great changes often begin with the words of a single voice; we must all be the voice.

Both the fisherman and the public need the salmon. Supplies will become depleted and what will we do then?

Become vegan?

With all our wisdom, can't we do something smarter than a major fish kill?

Please, please, please protect our salmon runs. These fish have a hard enough time of it without big business getting in the way.

"Don't do this", "Don't do that". We need water for so many things. Rather than fight for the easy water, we should be converting sea water to fresh water, using renewable energy. It doesn't matter that it might be expensive and use large surface areas. How crazy is it?

1) Assume the sun provides 700W/square meter for 5 hours/day. That converts to 3Mcal/day. Using brute force boiling, that would produce 4.9Liters of distilled water per day per square meter, or 1.6 cubic feet per day per 100 square feet/day.
2) Let's assume we need to augment the Trinity by 200cfs. (I think about a 35% increase).
that would take a solar distillery surface area of 10.8 million square feet, or a square measuring 0.62mile x 0.62mile. That seems acceptable given the benefit to both nature and people.
3) That is with a brute force boiler where every bit of heat energy from the sun went into boiling the seawater. But, it is conceivable that with heat exchangers, that the production could be 10X more efficient. That would reduce the required surface area to about 1040 ft x 1040 ft, or 24.6 acres. That is downright acceptable.
4) So what is holding up a solution to the problem?

Very little to say, actually:

Greed, fear, and moral bankruptcy of some politicians means the death of so much of our world that is beautiful and healthy.

By this I mean not only the physical extinction of species and subspecies, but the extinction human society as a conceivably moral entity.

Who has control of whether the salmon survive or the expanding pivot irrigation businesses win? Does anyone in control ever take these comments seriously, or does the dollar rule? We cannot eat money, and once Mother Nature is dead, the economy will only survive for a few weeks, and those with the money may survive a little bit longer, but the economy will end. The thinking that robs the salmon of clean, fresh water for breeding is the thinking of a society at its end. We cannot survive without healthy fish, healthy land.

Of course the dollar rules because mega-corps own our politicians. Until we change a few laws, including those that allow our congresspersons to leave office and take jobs lobbying for big-money interests, don't expect any changes.

Please protect our Salmon. This is not right and is not healthy for the environment! Come on! You are messing with Mother Nature and nothing GOOD is going to come of this. This is only going to affect our ecological system.
Save the Salmon! Save the Whales! It's a domino effect. Lets also think about our fishermen and their welfare.
This is just despicable to say the least!

So doing the mass killing of Salmon - or any kind of fish will just add to the cost of fish "we" can purchase. What in the world is going on? Don't they care? I guess not. I also think if this happens "we" should boycott the products that these business are behind this slaughter. What will it take to STOP this?

I thank you and I thank the Lord for all that you do to try to stop the ruination of our country and our world.

I agree with what you're fighting for and with the effort to save these majestic living beings!


We couldn't have said it better ourselves! We must all work together to save the environment and the wonderful animals that inhabit this planet! Write letters, sign petitions, make phone calls, donate and demonstrate whenever you can!


What affects salmon will affect us all. Salmon feeds us all - people, bears, eagles, insects, soil, water. Thank you for standing for the salmon!

I thank you and I thank the Lord for all that you do to try to stop the ruination of our country and our world.

I agree with what you're fighting for and with the effort to save these majestic living beings!

I agree with all the others above. !!!
I am so tired of the greed of those who want to kill Mother Nature.
I do hope there is a "Pearly Gates" manned by her.

Protect the fish!!

Protect the fish!!

Stop eating the food produced in USA then, China will sell food to poison pets and people alike at a steep discount. oh well, guess you cant fix stupid, while you are all ranting look up the number of farmers in the united states any more..... I digress, I am going out to the garden, to pick something to go along with my farm raised steak, washed down with
US produced milk or juice, all the while continueing to be proud of American farmers and the higher quality food that they produce

I so hope you win this one, in time.

I once did a quick little analysis of Northern California river flow data for a Bolivian environmental organization. It showed river flows over time, and the data included observations of drought and high rain years. The bottom line, even though river water was "shared" with the river itself, was that the river always came out short, compared with the diversion canals, and this was even more pronounced in drought years.

"Nature always loses", but, please, not this time. And I hope you can set a precedent for future runs, too.

Extinction is forever.

Hastening the extinction of thousands of species is now our legacy as a technologically advanced species.

That we would continue to consciously make decisions which will speed the extinction of yet more species, is sad indeed.

Our oceans have provided far more than could be asked of them already; let us not willfully destroy what still remains.

It is tragic what we, the human race, keep on doing to destroy all of nature. We tread so heavily on this earth, we put dinosaurs to shame. They're extinct and we to, will be, in a very short time because of the short sightedness that we have.

Societies of the world have become, me, me, me and it matters not who or what is destroyed as long as everyone gets their pound of flesh. It's disgusting!

I pray for the day when I don't have to sign any more petitions to save all the endangered sea life, bees, birds, land, rivers, mountains, etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

Well said.

Just one more step in the degradation of the natural world. Please consider the salmon!

If you wanna see degradation, look at the history of salmon that were killed by shasta dam out of redding, CA. Since 1945, we have lost about $53 trillion worth of salmon. Was that worth it?

Gee I dunno, as the exxon CEO told Charlie Rose:

My business is making money. Period!!!

Kind of strange that the youth invest in an outfit designed to destroy their future....

Stop killing innocent just for business.Don't let them distroy our environment !

Can we really expect a Federal judge to stand up to a group as terrifying as Westlands? Not if he wants to be a Supreme Court Justice someday. Geeze, people, cut the Honorable one some slack.

An on-going food supply like this must be protected from idiocy that threatens it. Our world is slowly being manipulated into an environmental disaster by those who want to control all food and water in the world and sell it at a dear price no matter who or what it kills as it reaps it's predatory profits world-wide. Their short term gain is humanity and all living things on planet Earth's possible extinction.

You are so right Mike. The corporations have taken control and our paid off politicians are aiding them in every way they can. We currently have enough food grown and harvested each year to feed about 12 billion people. But good food is dumped by big agri because, rather than lower the price so people can afford it, or, heaven forbid, give it away free to the poorest, these big companies hold out for top dollar and if it doesn't come, oh well. It's off to the dump with billions of tons of good food because greed rules and empathy looses in their mindset.

Same with them stealing the water unknown to the majority of the people in America or the world.These companies have gone in, some decades ago and bought up the water under the land, including the water you get from your well if you have one, the water on the land and even the water that falls from the skies. That is how evil this world has become.

If the choice is between nature and business, we must choose nature. Business' come and go, but nature, once gone, is lost forever.

Why can't the people in charge understand the difference between salmon and rice/corn/soybeans/tomatoes? If the vegetables don't get enough water one year - such as this one, for example - that's one-year's profit for the farmers; if the salmon don't get to go up the river to spawn this year (or any other) they DIE without leaving any progeny, which means there will NEVER be any more salmon from that run. These native people live on this salmon run, whereas agribusiness does nothing but increase profits for a few. Farmers already take over half of this water! Be fair, at the very least!

Also, other wildlife live off the salmon after they spawn and start to die, like bears and yes wolves. Wolves only eat the head of the salmon as there are nutrients in the brain wolves need for a healthy body. Bears and other species like eagles, ravens, raccoons and others then eat the remains left from bigger predators.
And that is part of a healthy eco-system.

We must learn from Teddy Roosevelt and set aside certain water and land that NO MAN or Corporation can touch because men and corporations have one goal.To make money.

If we are to save our resources we must protect them otherwise greed will override logic and future generations will starve into extinction. It's amazing how wisdom and the courage to stand up for what needs to be done, has vanished in our society today.

If California thinks they have a water problem now just wait until Oil and Gas starts using up the water they have left to drill fracking wells. The left over toxic wastewater will be the only thing left for people to drink and water all the crops. We will REALLY be in trouble if that is allowed to happen.

When are we going to lean we keep destroying the habit of all living creatures. Wake up people. Release the water let the salmon continue to do what they do every year to surive. Release the water

Fish inhabited rivers long before the dawn of man which means Nature has found a way to naturally balance itself without the interference of men. Why do a small select group of greedy, self-serving people think it is acceptable for them to change the status quo? And why do those entrusted with the power to make those decisions allow themselves to be bought? We, as a democratic society. need to take back our country. We need to stand up for the will of the majority versus the desires of the select few. The plight of the salmon is just one more example of how skewed politics in this cou try have become. Let's start changing thi T's for the better now. Let the water flow and let the salmon have their home.


Hope the Court listens to the people and not some big agri-businesses. People depend on this salmon run and we should stop endangering the earth and killing off its creatures.

I believe our government officials have lost their minds. Big Oil pollutes our oceans, forests, and various land masses in the quest to further fill their collective pockets. The decline of species on the planet is rampant. Those who COULD do something to stem Earth's assault won't for fear of being voted out of office. So now, here comes the attack is on fresh water which salmon and citizenry along the shores of these rivers and streams. Yes, it's true the farmers are not getting the water they need AND HAVE PAID FOR in order to grow our food, but that is NO excuse to kill of another source of food and the lives of an already threatened species. Those who eat fish know full well farmed salmon tastes different than wild. This destruction on earth, various habitats, and sensitive environments MUST stop. Mega-farmers are also destroying the earth with their pesticides and cause countless illnesses upon the people who work in the fields. THERE MUST BE AN EQUITABLE SOLUTION, AND IT IS NOT IN THE LINING OF MEGA-FARMER'S POCKETS.

Insanity at it's best. It's always a few people in a population that make
way for the rest to evolve or die. I guess it's up to environmentally
aware people to take the lead over and over again, by standing up
and saying, "NO" to the insanity of big Business interests over the
welfare of the planet and her populace.

We must conserve water and save the environment. We must not allow the agri business to ruin our natural waters and in the process kill the salmon. The salmon provide good helathy food for us and wildlife. Stop destroying our natural resources. When it is gone, we can't get it back.

The ecosystem is a delicate balance that has developed through thousands of years, and if we interfere in that balance, we will be contributing to our own destruction.

thanks for the heads up! I will follow. If you need us to apply pressure to public
agencies or anywhere else with phone calls or email petitions, we will!

Perhaps all those folks who want to have salmon steaks on their menu in all the
cities in California and beyond should take notice.

let big ag apply mulch to their fields instead of roundup; cultivate hummus in their
soil so it can hold moisteure; think about how they can use water more efficiently; start thinking about sustainability in their operations...they have run out of time when they can
use up all the water in the state and poison the soils, streams, and aquifers with impunity.

thanks for your work.

"Yell it Out! Spell it it for SALMON"

(a salmon poem )

Chinook are SALMON running free*** LIFE is found in water!***The Rivers Klamath/Trinity***
for SALMON span! Not slaughter!***So riddle this , you farmers there***Big Agra of ill fame. ***Fish kills occur when water's gone!***And death comes in your name!***The last time water was stolen***Fish kill 2002!*** These healthy SALMON leave alone!***Or Nature, you undo!***Besides you guzzling corporate ones***No Water? Fish Kill shock!*** Millions depend on fish, you see.*** Wild river can't be blocked!!***The COMMON GOOD stands tall and true.***More benefits from fish!***So stop this thieving corporate way!***SALMON, you can't dismiss!*** The only problem Salmon brings*** that "L" and spelling hell!***So you, Big Agra, LOL***Well you can go to "L."...:)

Protect the salmon and steelhead!

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