Salmon Safer on the Sacramento River

Knights Landing Outfall Gates operated by Reclamation District 108.

Knights Landing Outfall Gates from the Sacramento River side.

The construction project to place structures on the Knights Landing Outfall Gates to exclude salmon is almost complete. I recently went to the event when the gates were installed. Congratulations Reclamation District 108 on getting something built.

The drainage water from Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District and the Colusa Basin Drain enters the Sacramento River or continues down the Ridge Cut at Knights Landing. Most of the drainage water comes out in the fall when rice fields are drained before harvest. At this time salmon are swimming up the Sacramento River to spawn and some of them are attracted to the flows and head up the Drain. Unfortunately, if they go over the Outfall Gates they are permanently separated from the river where the spawning beds are located and lost to the wild salmon population.

People watching the gates being installed to keep salmon from entering the Colusa Basin Drain.

People watching the gates being installed to keep salmon from entering the Colusa Basin Drain.

In November the construction will be complete. Then the only place where salmon can enter the Colusa Basin Drain will be through the Yolo Bypass Toe Drain and up the Wallace Weir. The Department of Water Resources is designing a permanent structure for Wallace Weir that will also exclude salmon. Reclamation District 108, who operates the Knights Landing Outfall Gates and is managing this project, has also agreed to manage the Wallace Weir construction.

Gate is lowered into place.

Gate is lowered into place.

It is crazy to hear about the challenges of permitting a project that is built primarily to benefit an endangered species—winter run salmon. You can build a Walmart with a negative declaration under CEQA, but you have to spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars to do the environmental work to permit something just for the betterment of the environment. Go figure.

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