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New Coalition Formed to Focus on Returning Stream Flows to the North Coast Region

The North Coast Stream Flow Coalition (NCSFC) has formed to carry out a campaign to get water back in northern California rivers. They want to break the political log jam preventing protection and restoration of adequate flow in North Coast California rivers and streams. Mighty rivers that once teamed with fish and provided countless hours of recreation for the public are now dry during summer or so stagnant as to be unsuitable for human contact. Action is needed in all California regions and river basins, but their Campaign will focus on North Coast rivers, including the California portion of the Klamath, the Eel, Russian, Navarro, Gualala and Napa Rivers.

Why is action needed?

Despite protections in the system of laws, North Coast rivers and streams are being progressively de-watered with disastrous impacts to fisheries, aquatic ecosystems, recreational opportunities and the regional economy. There are strong indications that the State Water Resources Control Board Water Rights Division is unlikely to adopt an aggressive water rights enforcement policy nor do they have the resources to accomplish such a task. The California Fish and Game Codes designed to protect stream flow are also not being enforced. The State of California has also failed to exercise regulatory authority over groundwater, and as a result, groundwater pumping is contributing to the dewatering of North Coast rivers and streams. Lack of enforcement and coordination has lead to rivers being dried up across our region and now the government is proposing that taxpayers lease water from irrigation interests in order to keep our rivers alive and our fish from going extinct. If this practice is adopted widely, the Public Trust Doctrine as it applies to water in California will have been effectively abolished.

The Public Trust Doctrine affirms that all people own the rivers and streams in common. It is embedded in the U.S. and California Constitutions and has its roots dating all the way back to the Justinian Code and Magna Carta. The associated rights include fishing, recreation, hunting and access to tidelands, rivers and streams and to maintain river and stream ecosystems for public benefit.

NCSFC Campaign components

  • Public Information and Education designed to raise the awareness of the public about the destruction of our rivers and streams.
  • Citizen Involvement in monitoring stream flows, documenting dewatering of streams and rivers, filing complaints and pressuring agencies and the legislature to enforce laws which are intended to protect stream flows.
  • Administrative Advocacy with the agencies and boards responsible for protecting stream flows and the beneficial uses of water.
  • Litigation which is strategically targeted at providing the “motivation” which agencies and boards need to adequately address stream flow issues.
  • Legislation may be needed to provide the resources needed for effective enforcement and for other purposes related to restoring stream flows.

“By natural law itself these things are the common property of all: air, running water, the sea, and with it the shores of the sea.” Institutes of Justinian, Book II, c.1, s.1 (circa 530 AD)

The NCSFC’s website is: www.ourstreamsflow.org