Wednesday August 24, 2022

Lost Coast Outpost

Friends of the Eel River, a Eureka-based citizens’ group dedicated to protecting and restoring Eel River fisheries, has sent a formal letter to Humboldt County demanding it move to protect fisheries and other public trust values in the lower Eel River from groundwater pumping that lowers surface flows in the river.

“Humboldt County’s recently submitted Groundwater Sustainability Plan appears to be an attempt to prevent regulation of groundwater pumping in the lower river, at the expense of Eel River fish,” said Friends of the Eel River Executive Director Alicia Hamann. “But the county’s own data shows well pumping is pulling water out of the Eel River’s flows. In dry, hot years like those we’ve been seeing recently and expect to continue, groundwater pumping in the lower Eel River basin is reducing surface flows, and even leading to the lower river entirely disconnecting.”

The lower Eel River includes groundwater dependent ecosystems, providing habitat for rare, threatened, and endangered species. In particular, it serves as critical habitat for Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead. The County’s data indicates that during periods of low flow, groundwater pumping can reduce surface flows, which inhibits salmonid migration and degrades water quality.

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