Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
California is experiencing the worst drought in its history, and the effects are being felt nationwide. Thus water issues have taken center stage in much of our reporting and the nation's.As the New York Times says, "Water has long been a precious resource in California, the subject of battles pitting farmer against city-dweller and northern communities against southern ones; books and movies have been made about its scarcity and plunder. Water is central to the state’s identity and economy, and a symbol of how wealth and ingenuity have tamed nature ..."As we continue through a fourth year of extreme drought conditions, you'll find all of our reporting on the related issues (and that of NPR and other member stations) in this centralized place.

Extra Water Released To Save Klamath Salmon

Ingrid Taylar
Flickr, Creative Commons

Hoping to stave off a monumental fish kill on the Klamath River, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Friday began releasing more water from Trinity Reservoir to aid fall run Chinook salmon.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that this will help,” says Michael Belchik, the senior fisheries manager for the Yurok Tribe.

With water levels lower and river temperatures higher, conditions are frightfully similar to 13 years ago when over 60,000 returning adults perished before they could spawn. The die off in 2002 was caused in part by the diversion of water to irrigators in the Klamath Basin.

Reclamation said additional flows will continue into late September.

The Westlands Water District has in the past sued to block the water releases. The district declined to respond to requests for comment.

Officials with the bureau and the Yurok people are concerned about the early appearance of a pest commonly known as ich, the bane of owners of tropical fish aquariums.

Belchik and his team regularly capture and examine salmon for ich. What he’s found this year is troubling.

“Our first confirmed detection last year was on August 21,” he said. “This year we had our first confirmed detection on July 17.”

It is hoped higher water will flush the ich protozoa downstream before an epidemic spreads among the fish.