Killing fish to save fish?
On Aug. 16, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved an estuary
management project and certified its environmental impact report (“Supervisors endorse lagoon at Jenner for steelhead,”Aug. 17).
The Russian River WatershedProtection Committee’s critique of this project established (using Water Agency fish counts from 2000-04) that there are significant numbers of Chinook salmon passing the Mirabel water facility during the summer project period. Yet the environmental report ignored low flow and high temperature impacts to salmon.
The report failed to address low-flow requirements as not being connected to the estuary
project. Yet the biological opinion published by the National Marine Fisheries Service says low flow is essential to sustaining the freshwater lagoon without breaching. Too frequently breaching undermines the project by allowing saltwater into the lagoon.
River temperatures, already too high for salmonids in the summertime, increase during low flows. High temperatures severely stress and/or kill salmonids at current levels during regular summer flows. So this project is likely to take some threatened fish to save others.
This project will cost Sonoma and Marin county water customers millions as it disturbs seals and tourists to the point where they may leave
the area. Who knows what will happen to the Chinook salmon?
Russian River Watershed Protection Committee