Klamath River Salmon and Steelhead Recovery – The Future

After dam removal, the plan for recovering Klamath River salmon and steelhead is relatively straightforward.

Oregon is going to focus on watching to see how steelhead repopulate the upper watershed and on having a more active role in developing spring-run Chinook salmon populations.  Without an existing spring-run stock, Oregon will try establishing one by out-planting stock from California’s Trinity River Hatchery.

California will focus on recovery of existing lower river spring-run Chinook and fall-run Chinook, Coho, and steelhead stocks.  The new Fall Creek Hatchery will sustain the fall-run Chinook, Coho, and steelhead stocks formerly produced at the now-closed Iron Gate Hatchery.  Lower and middle river wild spring–run and fall-run Chinook, Coho, and mainstem and tributary steelhead stocks should expand with improved water quality and access to new habitat.  Historical tributaries offer great potential as does the spring-fed reach of the mainstem near the Oregon border.

In the decades ahead, as the populations and habitat recover, state, federal, tribal, and stakeholder groups will work together toward Klamath salmon and steelhead recovery.

There will be a need to coordinate management of the three H’s:  hatcheries, harvest, and habitat.  Existing hatchery programs should be converted to a single conservation hatchery program focused on salmon and steelhead recovery.  Such a program will need a new hatchery to support the recovery of Klamath spring-run Chinook, as in the San Joaquin River Restoration Program.  The Pacific Fishery Management Council and the two states will have to protect the recovering populations with strict harvest regulations.  Considerable funding will be needed to restore fire-damaged and drought-damaged watersheds, former reservoir footprints, mainstem and tributary fish passage, and spawning and rearing habitat.

Water supply management will remain contested and challenging.  Adequate funding, cooperative efforts, and adaptive management will bring success.

Klamath Dam Removal Update – April 6, 2024


In a March 20 post, I related events in the Jan-Feb 2024 period of the Klamath Dam Removal Project.  The initial four-reservoir drawdown in January led to abrupt increases in streamflow, suspended sediment, and low dissolved oxygen levels above and below Iron Gate Reservoir (the lower reservoir).  This was followed by lower stable streamflow, high dissolved oxygen, and declining suspended sediment.  Streamflow pulses from upstream Klamath Lake in late February and early March resulted in (short-term) elevated suspended sediment from exposed sediment erosion in the four reservoir reaches.  These circumstances were expected as part of the four Dam Removal Project.

In March, the Assisted Sediment Evacuation Project began in the Jenny Creek floodplain of the Iron Gate Reservoir footprint.   That project has led to lethal doses of suspended sediment (turbidity) in the lower Klamath River below the Iron Gate Dam site (Figures 1-3).  Project approvals, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) biological opinion quoted below, included provisions to stabilize sediments after the January drawdown, but not to flush sediments into creeks and the Klamath River.

Post drawdown and dam removal, crews will be working to actively restore the exposed reservoir footprints and tributary mouths that flow into the former reservoirs. To reduce elevated suspended sediment concentrations (SSCs), the Renewal Corporation will take active measures to flush sediment from the reservoirs during drawdown and then immediately begin stabilizing remaining sediment after drawdown has been completed. Revegetation, channel construction, and placement of habitat features such as logs and boulders will minimize erosion and allow passable channels to form in preparation of fish presence. (NMFS Biological Opinion p. 14)

The origin of the high suspended sediment levels was likely from the exposed bed of Iron Gate Reservoir (particularly the Jenny Creek arm), not upstream reservoir erosion during the Klamath Lake flow pulses.  Sediment levels below Iron Gate Dam were low during the flow pulse that diluted the high sediment loads from Iron Gate Reservoir (Figure 1).  Gages below Copco and JC Boyle reservoirs were lower, generally below lethal levels (Figure 4).

Chinook salmon fry are abundant and most prevalent in the lower Klamath River below Iron Gate Dam in late winter (February-March).  Coho and steelhead fry are more abundant later during spring.

The Assisted Sediment Evacuation Project is slated to end on April 15.  I recommend that it cease immediately, with efforts shifted to “stabilizing remaining sediment,” in order to minimize impacts of the project on Klamath River salmon and steelhead.

Figure 1. Turbidity and streamflow in the Klamath River below Iron Gate Dam (rm 193) in January to March 2024. Note turbidity of 300-500 SBU is roughly 1000-2000 mg/l total suspended sediment (TSS). Such levels are considered lethal for juvenile salmon and steelhead.

Figure 2. Turbidity and streamflow in the Klamath River near Seiad Valley below the mouth of the Scott River (rm 145) in March 2024.

Figure 3. Turbidity and streamflow in the Klamath River near Seiad Valley about ten miles upstream from the mouth of the Scott River (rm 145) in March 2024.

Figure 4. Turbidity and streamflow in the Klamath River just upstream of Iron Gate Reservoir and below Copco dams in March 2024.

Scott-Shasta River Salmon Update – February 2024

The upper Scott River near Callahan in early spring of drought year 2013.

At the end of November 2023, the Beaver Moon, the last full moon before December, appeared. The Beaver Moon was so named because it was the last chance for trappers to catch beaver with full coats before winter set in. The Beaver Moon also occurs at the peak of the Coho and Chinook salmon runs in the Scott River Valley, once named Beaver Valley. The beaver were once very abundant before being “removed” by ranchers and trappers. Today, beaver are slowly coming back. The beaver help maintain the local groundwater tables, streamflow, water temperatures, riparian vegetation, and create good coho salmon rearing habitat.1

The State Water Resources Control Board took up the Scott and Shasta Rivers water issues again in fall 2023,2 following its adoption of emergency drought regulations in 2022 and a 2023 petition from the Karuk Tribe and environmental organizations3 to protect salmon and steelhead in the Scott river in all water years.

The emergency regulations for 2022 called for summer minimum flows of 30-50 cfs in the Scott River and 50 cfs in the Shasta River. Such minimums were not achieved on the Scott River (Figure 1), but for the most part were achieved on the Shasta River (Figure 2). Such flows were necessary for two key flow functions: (1) maintaining connectivity between spawning and rearing areas in the valleys and the Klamath River, and (2) sustaining over-summering rearing habitat of salmon and steelhead throughout the two rivers and their tributaries.

Without adequate summer flows, salmon fry become trapped in upstream spawning areas without access to productive spring-fed Valley rearing habitat. Maintaining flow in Valley spring-fed habitats provides connectivity and rearing refuges. Late summer and fall minimum flows are necessary to provide access to the valleys from the Klamath River canyon for salmon and steelhead adult spawners.

The State Board should have kept some emergency order elements in place after the orders ended in July 2023, even though 2023 was a wet year. In 2023, both rivers and their salmon were stressed again by low flows (Figures 3 and 4).

Because base flows from mountain and valley springs are just over 100 cfs in both streams, stressful conditions are brought on by the cumulative effects of small water diversions and groundwater pumping. Surface water diversions and groundwater extraction for agricultural and domestic water use draw from this supply, with peak use in the summer-fall irrigation season. On the Shasta River, the irrigation season ends at the beginning of October, allowing flows from springs to fill the river channel for returning salmon. On the Scott River, the irrigation season extends through November to water pastures and to get in the last crop of hay.

In the Shasta River, flows in October are sufficient for Chinook spawners passage to spawning areas around Big Springs in Shasta Valley. But in the Scott Valley, Chinook often do not have adequate passage flows to ascend from the Klamath Canyon up to Scott Valley until the first late-fall rains. In most years, early December rains accommodate the Coho run in the Scott River. Young salmon from the prior year’s spawning also need the fall flows to emigrate from the Valley to the Klamath River and ocean.

2023 Karuk et. al. Petition for Scott River4

On May 22, 2023, the Karuk Tribe, Environmental Law Foundation, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association, and Institute for Fisheries Research petitioned the State Water Board to initiate a rulemaking to establish permanent (not just emergency) instream flows on the Scott River.

As an initial response, the State Water Board re-adopted, on an emergency basis, the emergency minimum instream flows previously in effect in both the Scott River and Shasta River.

Comment: The State Board did not readopt the emergency regulations in wet year 2023 and the salmon suffered.

2024 Coastkeeper et al. Petition for Shasta River

On January 17, 2024, California Coastkeeper Alliance, Friends of the Shasta River, Mt. Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, Water Climate Trust, Shasta Waterkeeper, Save California Salmon, and Environmental Protection Information Center petitioned the State Water Board to initiate a rulemaking to establish permanent (not just emergency) instream flows on the Shasta River.


As an initial matter, the State Water Board should adopt as permanent the minimum instream flows it adopted on February 1, 2024 as emergency instream flows.5 This will put an immediate end to dry streambeds in the summer and fall as shown in Figures 3-5 below. This will admittedly also significantly reduce water available for human use and cause a conflict between groundwater and surface water users, as well as among water right holders.

In the longer term, there are some relatively straightforward additional measures that could help create solutions to the problems in Scott and Shasta Valleys and potentially reduce the water supply impacts. Whether these actions are equitable, reasonable, cost-effective, and/or politically doable is open to question and evaluation. The adoption of the flow requirements as shown must not be contingent on the implementation or effectiveness of such actions.

Possible additional measures include:

  1. Create additional instream or off-stream storage to capture winter water for summer release to meet demands and needs.
  2. Make concerted efforts to recharge groundwater storage with the often-plentiful winter-spring runoff.
  3. Deepen the river channel by removing accumulated fine and course sediments to enhance channel access to groundwater. Removing Young’s Dam in the middle Scott Valley would deepen channel upstream and alleviate the dam’s impediment to salmon and steelhead migration.
  4. Eliminate all surface water diversions from stream channels. There are many small water diversions from the Scott and Shasta rivers that divert streamflow and juvenile salmon. Surface diversions should be replaced by a regulated groundwater extraction program.

     Small water diversion on a Scott River tributary. All small and larger surface diversions should be eliminated. The present system was controlled by the state watermaster program that no longer covers the Scott River and its tributaries.

    Small water diversion on a Scott River tributary. All small and larger surface diversions should be eliminated. The present system was controlled by the state watermaster program that no longer covers the Scott River and its tributaries.

  5. Use unused well capacity to temporarily augment surface water flow in the streams in late summer to help with salmon migrations and to accommodate spawners. In Scott Valley, many hay producers cease pumping from wells at the beginning of August or September. A monitoring and evaluation program would be required to avoid long-term impacts to groundwater levels. The target flow in both the Scott River and Shasta River should be near 100 cfs by October 1 at the Fort Jones and Yreka gages, respectively.
  6. Enhance and restore water storage in mountain and valley meadows through watershed management, including introductions of beaver.
  7. Institute an aggressive water conservation program in the two watersheds.

Latest Actions

 The petitioners requested the following:

Drought emergency minimum flows are specified below:

 Scott River:

  Shasta River:

 The State unveiled the California Salmon Strategy for a Hotter, Drier Future:  Restoring Aquatic Ecosystems in the Age of Climate Change on January 31, 2024.  The Strategy describes state actions for the Scott and Shasta rivers, as follows:


  • Designate Salmon Strongholds: the Klamath River and its tributaries including the Salmon, Scott, and Shasta rivers.
  • In April 2023, CDFW awarded $20 million in Drought Emergency Salmon Protection Grants to 10 projects demonstrating support from and collaboration with Tribal Nations and landowner interests in the Shasta and Scott rivers and their watersheds. These include habitat improvement, removal of barriers to fish passage, and groundwater recharge projects that help ensure streamflow.
  • The State Water Board, acting upon a petition from the Karuk Tribe, began consideration of an emergency regulation in 2023 to set emergency minimum flows for the Scott and Shasta rivers while a longer, inclusive process evaluates long-term strategies for these salmon strongholds.
  • By early 2024, commence work to establish minimum instream flows in the Scott and Shasta Rivers, working with local partners on locally driven solutions and coordinating on options for incentivizing the reduction of diversions and groundwater pumping. (SWRCB, CDFW)
  • Currently, with state funding support, the Yurok Tribe, the Karuk Tribe, California Trout, Scott River Water Trust, and Farmers Ditch Company are developing a design-build project to restore habitat in the Scott River and improve water diversion infrastructure for on-farm water utilization and efficiency.

 For more on the Scott River issues see: https://calsport.org/fisheriesblog/?p=1608 .

Figure 1. Scott River streamflow in 2021 and 2022 at Fort Jones gage. Note the end of the irrigation season in November-December. Note also prescribed emergency flows were not met in 2022.

Figure 2. Shasta River summer 2021 and 2022 streamflow at the Yreka gage. Note the end of the irrigation season on October 1st. Note also prescribed emergency flows were met in 2022 with the exception of about a one-week period in August.

Figure 3. Scott River streamflow in summer-fall 2023 at Fort Jones gage. Note the July 2023 flow reduction when the emergency flow regulations ended. Note also the end of the irrigation season on December 1st.

Figure 4. Shasta River summer 2023 streamflow at the Yreka gage. Note the July 2023 flow reduction when the emergency flow regulations ended. Note also the end of the irrigation season on October 1st.

Figure 5. Scott River in Scott Valley in August 2013. The riverbed is perched above the water table that was low due to groundwater extraction for hay and pasture watering.

Figure 6. Lower Valley location of Scott River at the mouth of Shackleford Creek, a major salmon spawning tributary, on October 26, 2013.

Figure 7. Young’s Dam and fish ladder. Portions of the dewatered Scott Valley stream are located in the perched channel upstream of Young’s Dam. Under low late-summer streamflows, the ladder at Young’s Dam is not functional and blocks the Chinook migration. The channel upstream of the dam is wide and perched above the water table, so it is often too warm, with insufficient flow and cover, for rearing salmon. In contrast, the channel below the dam is deep and shaded with spring-fed juvenile salmon refugia.

  1. Beaver dams sometimes block salmon migrations.  In Alaska, biologists sometimes resort to blowing up dams with dynamite.  On the Yuba River near Brownsville, biologists in recent decades had to “dismantle” some dams to allow salmon access to tributary creek spawning habitat.
  2. https://www.times-standard.com/2023/08/22/minimum-flows-set-for-scott-river-in-state-water-board-meeting/
  3. https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drought/scott_shasta_rivers/docs/2023/petition-minimum-flows.pdf
  4. https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/scott_shasta_rivers/docs/2022/klamath-reg-2022.pdf
  5. State Water Board, Emergency Regulation Scott River & Shasta River Watershed, February 1, 2024:  https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drought/scott_shasta_rivers/docs/2024/scott-shasta-reg-oal-approval-2024.pdf.

2022 Sacramento River Operations – Temperature Management Plan

So much is at stake in this water year 2022: water supplies, water quality, agricultural production, hydropower production, as well as the future of salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, smelt, and other native fishes of the Klamath and Sacramento-San Joaquin watersheds. Despite the lessons of the 1976-1977, 1987-1992, 2007-2009, and 2013-2015 droughts, the choices and tradeoffs are more difficult, and effects more significant and consequential to the fish, in 2022, the third year of the 2020-2022 drought. The State Water Resources Control Board is about to approve 2022 water operation plans for Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP). Among the most immediate effects of these plans will be the fate of iconic fisheries resources of the Sacramento and Klamath Rivers, in 2022 and beyond.

The two key elements of the plans are (1) the Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan (TMP) governing Shasta/Trinity operations, and (2) the Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) governing Delta operations. A 4/5/22 post covered some aspects of the TUCP on Delta operations, which serves to cut demands on federal and state reservoir storage in the Sacramento River watershed by lowering Delta outflow requirements. (See also CSPA and allied organizations’ protest and objection to the TUCP.)

This post covers the 2022 TMP, which focuses on Shasta/Trinity storage releases and management of Shasta Reservoir’s storage releases and cold-water pool in support of Sacramento River salmon. It starts with a review of both the hydrological and biological effects of Shasta and Trinity operations in 2021. Starting with 2021 creates context in two ways. First, it explains the severe depletion of CVP and SWP storage in 2021, which created the avoidable portion of the extreme storage conditions of 2022. Second, it describes the disastrous failure to protect fish in 2021, both as consequence of bad management and contributor to the dire conditions of fisheries in 2022.

2021 Sacramento River Operations

The predominant characteristic of 2021’s operations of Shasta Reservoir and the Sacramento River was excessive reservoir storage releases over the spring and summer for water deliveries. Within this constrained context, the dominant biological features in 2021 were management of the cold-water pool for salmon , along with associated “downstream” effects on the lower river and Bay-Delta. The 2021 Sacramento River operations plan led to significantly reduced production in brood year 2021 of all four runs of Sacramento salmon.

I have divided the 2021 story into five event periods (Figure 1), each with differing conditions and outcomes:

Period A: The early-April through early-June period was characterized by rapidly rising high releases (6000-9000 cfs) for water deliveries in late April and May. Reclamation claimed it saved 300 TAF of Shasta’s cold-water pool using power bypass of warm surface water for the high spring releases. In reality, the excessive delivery of irrigation water unnecessarily depleted total Shasta storage by nearly 500 TAF and depleted the cold-water pool by 200 TAF. Those storage losses also crippled any ability to subsequently sustain the cold-water pool through the summer.

The releases of unseasonably warmer water (56-60ºF) also (as planned) inhibited spawning in the late-April to early-June portion of the winter-run salmon spawning season (about half of the historical season). It also stressed winter-run and spring-run adults in their upper river pre-spawn holding areas. Recent scientific studies suggest that such stress (extended holding and warmer water) may have contributed to thiamine deficiencies in spawners that contributed to poor subsequent fry survival and smolt production. Rapidly rising flows and water temperatures may have also compromised late-fall-run salmon egg incubation that normally continues into April. Irrigation deliveries in the middle and upper river led to lower flows and high water temperatures in the lower river (Figures 2 and 3); this both reduced the survival of emigrating spring smolts of all four races of salmon, and hindered and stressed upstream migrating winter-run and spring-run adults.

Period B: The mid-June period of cold-water releases (53-55ºF) was designed to stimulate winter-run adult spawning. It also provided 8000 cfs irrigation releases that unnecessarily depleted total storage and the cold-water pool by 6-8 TAF per day for nearly two weeks (~100 TAF lost cold-water pool and total storage). It also resulted in salmon spawning at 8000 cfs, spawning habitat conditions that led to water surface elevations that increased by one-foot and then dropped by two-feet over the summer salmon egg incubation season. I have not assessed the role of flow on the amount of quality spawning habitat available or on the potential of redd dewatering/stranding, although such factors should also be considered in evaluating an operations plan. Irrigation deliveries in the middle and upper river led to lower flows and high water temperatures in the lower river (see Figures 2 and 3), hindering and stressing winter-run and spring-run adults that were late in migrating upstream.

Period C: The late-June to early-August period was the main winter-run egg incubation period under 2021 operations. Flow releases increased to accommodate irrigation demands. Irrigation diversions, in turn, reduced flows in the river further downstream, leading to high water temperatures (72-78ºF) that blocked early arriving fall-run adult immigrants. A rise of almost two feet in water level in early June from the increased flow likely caused some redd scouring in the upper river spawning reach below Keswick Dam.

Period D: The mid-August to mid-September period was characterized by falling storage releases, associated declining water levels, and warming water as the cold-water pool and access to it declined. Winter-run egg incubation continued through the period and likely suffered from stressful water temperatures and redd dewatering. Flows in the lower river increased, and water temperatures declined, becoming less stressful for upstream migrating adult fall-run.

Period E: The late-September through November period was characterized by continued warming of water temperatures due to lessening access to Shasta’s severely depleted cold-water pool, followed by natural fall cooling. Releases and water levels declined rapidly in the spawning reach. At the beginning of the period, warm water interrupted or delayed spring-run and fall-run spawning, while a water level drop of several feet led to redd dewatering and stranding. Winter-run fry were also subjected to potential stranding during the drop in water level. Spring-run and fall-run spawning was likely hindered or delayed into November due to high water temperatures and decreasing flows and associated water levels.

The 2022 Plan

The May 2 2022 Final TMP Is a radical change from the 2021 plan and actual operations. For the first time, Reclamation has prioritized protection of fish over irrigation deliveries to senior Sacramento River Settlement Contractors. The changes also reflect the much lower available storage in this third year of drought (Figure 4). Water release projections are much lower to sustain the cold-water pool and cool downstream temperatures through the summer (Tables 1 and 2).

April Operations and Effects

April operations closely followed the draft plan that Reclamation submitted to the State Water Board on April 6. April operations using middle TCD gates and small imports of Trinity River water maintained Keswick releases at 52-53ºC and 3250 cfs per the draft 2022 TMP. Such operation helped preserve Shasta storage and the volume of the deeper, cold-water pool (<50ºF). Valley-wide precipitation since mid-April increased flows in the middle and lower Sacramento River, stimulating juvenile salmon emigration and adult spring-run and winter-run salmon immigration. A small pulse flow from Keswick to the 30 miles of spawning and rearing habitat below Keswick Dam would have helped stimulate and benefit these salmon migrations, especially those from the upper 30-mile reach that saw little or no benefits from the April storms, but this did not occur.

The draft TMP (April 6) had the same proposed releases from Keswick Reservoir as the final TMP (May 2). However, the end-of-September storage in Shasta Reservoir predicted in the final TMP (1135 TAF) is over 100 TAF lower than was the prediction in the draft TMP (1250 TAF).

Proposed May Operations

The proposed May 4500 cfs release would come from Shasta Dam’s middle gates with access to warmer surface water in the lake, thus saving some of the cold-water pool. Such savings would require warmer releases that would delay spawning and stress holding adult winter-run and spring-run salmon.

For those winter-run who do spawn in May, egg survival could be compromised by the warmer water. With warming surface waters and warmer reservoir inflows in May, and more pre-spawn adult salmon arriving in the 10-mile spawning reach below Keswick Dam, a Keswick release temperature maintained at or below 51ºF would ensure the 10-mile spawning and holding reach is maintained near 53ºF. A colder release would require proportionately more cold water be released from deeper dam gates.

In reality, middle gate operation through early May (Figures 5 and 6) has sustained cooler-than-expected daily-average release temperatures at 51-52ºF. Hydropower peaking has accessed the warmer upper layers of the reservoir (Figures 7 and 8), saving some of the cold-water pool as planned. However, middle-gate operation under hydropower peaking, and gradual warming of reservoir surface waters, will result in increasing release temperatures per the plan later in May. A rapidly warming reservoir may necessitate use of lower gates or less hydropower peaking operations to maintain <54ºF through May per the plan. If spawning commences in early May due to cooler than planned dam releases, higher late May release temperatures would begin to compromise earlier-spawned egg survival. This should cause some re-evaluation of the plan.

Proposed June-September Operations

The proposed June-September 4500 cfs release (4000 cfs in September) from Shasta Dam will be from the lower TCD gates from the cold-water pool at ~50ºF (Table 2). Slightly higher Keswick Dam release water temperatures are predicted due to warming in Keswick Reservoir at ~4500 cfs through-flow. Water temperatures 5 miles downstream at Highway 44 will increase slightly more due to warm air temperatures.

The final temperature management strategy, based on recommendations received from the Sacramento River Temperature Task Group (SRTTG), is to target 58ºF at Highway 44 during the initial part of the season and then target 54.5ºF for 16 weeks around the estimated peak spawning date of Aug 2. This would result in targeting 54.5ºF from June 7 through September 27 or until the cold water is used up. Due to the limited available control in operating the middle gates (as described above), temperatures in June and July may be cooler than 54.5ºF. Reclamation will operate the TCD to target as close as possible to 54.5ºF to conserve cold water for maintaining target temperatures throughout the critical period.

Reclamation also received feedback from SRTTG members that an initial target of 58ºF would help to conserve cold water for later during the more critical portion of the temperature management season. The problem with this is that it will delay spawning, stressing yet-to-spawn adults and compromising survival of earlier-spawned embryos.

Fall Operations

Fall operations will be similar to those described above for Period E in 2021, with the exception of a lesser drop in flow. Water temperatures in late summer and fall will increase as the cold-water pool is depleted and access to it ends. Increasing temperatures will delay spring-run and fall-run spawning and stress pre-spawn adults (potentially aggravating the thiamine deficiency problem).


The planners have noted significant uncertainties that will require intensive real-time operations and management throughout the summer to achieve the various goals and targets throughout the system. To address uncertainty, Reclamation has employed conservative estimates of future conditions in the modeling assumptions (e.g., hydrology, operations, and meteorology) and projections, and has included as part of the TMP the potential to make changes, in consultation with the SRTTG, Water Operations Management Team, and/or the Shasta Planning Group. The State Board and NMFS should be included in the decision process.

Infrastructure limitations

The 2022 TMP was developed in consideration of the limitations on using the TCD and the need for temperatures below 56ºF at the Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery. Efforts to address these limitations should be accelerated. Hydropower peaking operations changes should also be considered.

Related Actions to the Final 2022 TMP

1. Six-Fold Increase in Winter-Run Hatchery Smolt Production
Reclamation plans to fund a six-fold increase in the production of hatchery winter-run smolts this year with staged fall-winter releases from the hatchery and Battle Creek. Such releases should timed to coincide with natural flow pulses and pulse flows from Keswick Dam.

2. Transfers of Adult Salmon
The plan includes the capture and transport of adult winter-run salmon to the headwaters of Battle Creek. Good additional measures would be to give these adult fish thiamine injections and to enhance spawning gravels in Battle Creek as soon as possible.

3. Thiamine Treatments
Stresses imposed prior to spawning (e.g., delayed spawning, low flows, warm water during migration) and holding contributes to thiamine deficiency and high mortality of yolk sac fry, both in hatcheries and wild salmon1. Only hatchery salmon can be treated effectively at adult or egg stage, so efforts should be made to treat any wild adults that are handled, as well as to minimize pre-spawning stresses (e.g., erratic flows and high water temperatures).

4. Water delivery cut to 18% to Settlement Contractors
The TMP proposes to limit water deliveries to Sacramento River Settlement Contractors to 18% of their contracted amounts. The State Board should enforce this limitation. Reclamation should subordinate the timing of water releases to contractors to the needs of salmon downstream of Keswick Dam.

5. Reduced Downstream Deliveries
Demand on Shasta storage for Delta inflow/outflow has been reduced by relying more on other SWP/CVP and non-project reservoirs. However, lower Sacramento River and Delta inflows have reached water temperatures above 65ºF in early May, which puts additional stress on salmon that are immigrating in late spring. It is not a question of whether in May or June lower river water temperatures will exceed 68ºF – the state standard – but when.

6. System-Wide Water Management
Reclamation plans to manage system water supplies to minimize demands on Shasta’s cold-water supply. The Plan and temperature modeling relies on numerous drought actions throughout the Sacramento watershed to reduce reliance on stored water from CVP and SWP reservoirs this summer. “These drought actions have added a degree of flexibility to manage storage at Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs for meeting public health and safety needs, repelling salinity in the Delta, producing hydropower and providing additional cold water for fishery protection throughout the summer.” In 2022, Reclamation has finally cut deliveries to Sacramento River Settlement Contractors substantially below minimum amounts stated in contracts, in order to protect salmon. However, DWR has not done so for Feather River Settlement Contractors. Reclamation and DWR should be looking at system-wide delivery reductions. Reclamation should also call on New Melones for Delta salinity control as needed. See also NRDC et al. Objection to the TMP (May 6, 2022) for additional recommended system measures.

7. Real-Time Adjustments and Reporting
“Daily releases may vary from these flows to adjust for real-time operations. Significant uncertainties exist within the forecast that will require intensive real-time operations management throughout the summer to achieve the various goals and targets throughout the system.” Reporting, scrutiny, and decision making should be open processes.

8. Restoration of Salmon Upstream of Dams
Reclamation is committed to restoring endangered salmon to their historical habitat upstream of Central Valley rim dams. This program should be accelerated.

Tables 1 and 2 are copied directly from the Final TMP dated May 2, 2022.

Figure 1. Keswick Dam release water release rate and temperature, April-November 2021. Five general periods (A-E) are depicted, based on flow-temperature conditions as described in more detail in text. A. Spring high storage release rate (6-9K cfs), including extensive power bypass releases of warm surface water. B. A late-June cold water release to stimulate winter-run salmon spawning (<53ºF). C. A post-spawn higher irrigation release period with late-egg-stage sustaining water temperatures. D. Cold-water pool saving period with falling flows and higher water temperatures. E. Early fall period with loss of access to cold-water pool and reduction in storage releases.

Figure 2. April-December 2021 Sacramento River flow below Keswick Dam (river mile 300) and below Wilkins Slough (river mile 120). The difference between the two locations, plus tributary and ag return inputs, equals total irrigation deliveries via surface diversions and ground water depletions.

Figure 3. Water temperature in the lower Sacramento River at Wilkins Slough (river mile 120) May-August 2021, along with average for past 13 years. Note that the state’s year-round water quality standard for the lower Sacramento River is for water temperature to remain below 68ºF. Water temperatures above 65ºF are stressful to migrating juvenile and adult salmon. Water temperatures above 70ºF hinder adult salmon migration. Water temperatures above 75ºF are lethal to salmon.

Figure 4. Shasta Reservoir storage in 2022 and other selected years.

Figure 5. Shasta Reservoir water temperature profile at end of April 2022.

Figure 6. Water temperatures of Shasta and Keswick Dam releases in 2021 and to date in 2022.

Figure 7. Hourly water temperature in Shasta Dam releases, 4/27-5/7 2022.

Figure 8. Hourly Shasta Dam flow releases 4/27-5/7 2022.

  1. Adult salmon thiamine stores reduce most during the pre-spawning fast (Vuorinen et al. 2020).  Vuorinen PJ, Rokka M, Ritvanen T, Käkelä R, Nikonen S, Pakarinen T, Keinänen M. 2020. Changes in thiamine concentrations, fatty acid composition, and some other lipid-related biochemical indices in Baltic Sea Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) during the spawning run and pre-spawning fasting. Helgol Mar Res. 74(1):1–24. doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s10152-020-00542-9. (Crossref), (Web of Science ®), (Google Scholar) https://hmr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s10152-020-00542-9

Lake Shasta – Late Fall 2021

When I first moved to California in fall 1977, I camped at Lakehead on Lake Shasta. I was surprised to only find the Sacramento River. I got the same view on a recent visit (Figures 1 and 2). No black bass or channel catfish, and few trout. The lake is down nearly 200 feet from when it last filled in spring 2019 (Figure 3). Storage is at 25% capacity (Figure 4). Flows were high from recent storms. The “river” was cutting into decades of deposited sediment, making what remained of the lake very turbid. Not the greatest conditions for my favorite fall fishery for spotted bass and trout.

Figure 1. Mid-November 2021 photo of Sacramento River arm of Lake Shasta. Note river cutting through historic lake sediments.

Figure 2. Mid-November 2021 photo of Sacramento River arm of Lake Shasta. Note “cuts” in lake sediment and turbid water.

Figure 3. Water surface elevation in Lake Shasta 2019-2021.

Figure 4. Current and historical water-year conditions for Lake Shasta storage.