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marcia8.jpg.jpg (10768 bytes) Ridin' Point

- a weekly column published in the Siskiyou Daily News

January 7, 2010


Scott Valley Groundwater Advisory Committee

Groundwater: Recently, the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance allowing for the creation of various advisory groups to the Board for each groundwater hydrological area of the county. The Board also passed a Resolution establishing a groundwater advisory committee specifically for Scott Valley. There are 13 slots for committee members. The County Clerk is now taking letters of interest for appointment of seven agriculture operators who use groundwater in Scott Valley; two domestic or other groundwater users; two representatives nominated amongst agricultural organizations; and two representatives of the City of Fort Jones.

An advisory group has no regulatory power. The Scott Valley committee is charged with reviewing available information and making a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors regarding the current state of groundwater, including groundwater/surface water connections. The committee is to review, evaluate and make recommendations regarding data collection, studies and professional analysis to determine the response of groundwater supply to natural process, human uses and other beneficial uses. It is also supposed to recommend management goals and objectives and any voluntary management strategies to achieve those objectives. Based on the Scott Valley Groundwater Study Plan approved as part of the Scott River Total Maximum Daily Load of temperatures for fish, the committee is also to make recommendations about the possible development and content of a voluntary groundwater protection and management plan.

For the past several years, a voluntary static well study of more than 30 wells has recorded monthly water levels throughout the lowlands of Scott Valley. This has been added to annual long term well level monitoring results from the Department of Water Resources and historic hydro-geologic studies by Seymour Mack. Dr. Thomas Harter and his graduate students from U.C. Davis have digitized the plotted the data to create a very rough dynamic model of how groundwater moves in most of the Scott Valley. Recently, as part of the implementation plan of the Scott River TMDL,  Dr. Harter and his students have been funded to do further work on the study and modeling. It is anticipated that they will work closely with the Scott Valley Advisory Committee. Dr. Harter is acknowledged as a nationally recognized expert on groundwater.   

At the same time, under the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement’s (KBRA,) the “Fish Managers” have identified “anticipated restoration actions in the Scott and Shasta that include: “Conduct surface water and ground water studies to identify relationship between groundwater dynamics and surface flow and describe instream flow conditions needed to protect and expand juvenile salmonid summer rearing habitat.” http://klamathrestoration.gov/

Coincidentally, the Karuk tribe has just published a Request for Proposals (RPF) for a scope of work to develop linked surface and groundwater models for the Scott River sub-basin. The RPF indicates that the intent of the model is to “enable the exploration of  creative water management  and other strategies to improve flow and water quality conditions for fisheries resources.” It further states that the model (including “out of the box” models should “predictive capabilities that will enable us to evaluate how changes in groundwater pumping, surface diversions, and various conservation measures would affect river flows under various hydrological and management conditions. The model must be capable of distinguishing effects to surface water flows at a reach-level scale, and be able to discern differences to flows resulting from management actions at an individual landowner scale.” The RPF states that the model will be used to predict site-specific daily flows under various management scenarios and under various hydrologic conditions.

It is unknown why such duplication of effort is needed and why the “Fish Managers” or the tribe need to game individual management strategies with an “out of the box’ model if they have no jurisdiction over groundwater management and the existing model has been created by an expert in the field.

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