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Water releases from Shasta Dam could lead to trouble for salmon

As this story details, this year’s average Sierra snowpack is melting early, raising concerns about the effect of water releases from Shasta Dam on endangered fish.

Farm interests lobbied for water releases in June, which began this week, but will enough extra water be available later in the year to ensure that winter-run salmon can make it up the Sacramento River in the deeper, cooler water they need to survive? Another year of die-offs might mean the extinction of winter run Chinook as a wild species.

Jon Rosenfield, a conservation biologist at the nonprofit Bay Institute of San Francisco, noted that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has confidently increased water releases from Shasta in prior years, only to later fail to hold temperatures down, leading to the loss of nearly all the juvenile Chinook.

“I’m dubious that they actually know they have enough water,” Rosenfield said. “It’s an irreversible thing – once the water is released, it can’t be put back. The damage done to the fish is irreversible, particularly if they go extinct.”

Read the entire story at http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article84891802.html.

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