In 1959, the County of Humboldt and the United States Department of the Interior – Bureau of Reclamation entered into a contract for annual water releases of not less than 50,000 acre-feet from Trinity Reservoir into the Trinity River. The Trinity River Division of the Central Valley Project, operated by the Bureau of Reclamation, diverts nearly half the stored water in Trinity Reservoir to the Sacramento River. In 2014, the Department of Interior Solicitor issued an opinion memo affirming the Bureau of Reclamation’s obligation to fulfill its obligations under the contract with Humboldt County. Additional legal and administrative steps must be completed by the Bureau of Reclamation before contract water is released, and additional technical information is needed to complete these steps.
In 2021, the California Wildlife Conservation Board approved a funding allocation to Humboldt County through the Stream Flow Enhancement Program to develop a water management plan for utilization of Humboldt County’s contract water from the Trinity River Division of the Central Valley Project. The overall project will engage stakeholders, perform technical analysis and modeling, and develop a water management plan to guide decision-making over a 25-year planning period. The studies will identify needs and priorities for releasing additional water from Trinity Reservoir into the Trinity River to help restore natural processes and improve fisheries and water quality. These releases would be in addition to the volumes released by the Trinity River Restoration Program. In addition, the Project will address unresolved questions regarding water rights and regulatory compliance and will define the proposed action for a subsequent phase of environmental review, consultation and regulatory action, as applicable. Project goals include addressing missing elements of the natural flow regime, enhancing habitat quality for fish and wildlife, improving ecosystem health and resilience and increasing opportunities for ocean and river salmon fishing and water quality enhancement.
On February 17, 2022, Humboldt County released a Request for Proposals for professional consulting services to assist with development of the water management plan and associated technical studies:
Request for Proposals RFP No. 2022-251031 (PDF 1.1 MB)
Proposals are due March 21, 2022.
Humboldt County supports the Salt River Ecosystem Restoration Project, a collaborative effort between private landowners, non-profit organizations, and local, state, and federal agencies to restore fish habitat, improve water quality, and alleviate flooding impacts. The Salt River project is distinctive for the scale of the restoration, the complexity of the issues, and its commitment to being community- and partnership-based. The project encompasses the Salt River, Francis Creek, and Williams Creek which suffer from severe sedimentation and hydraulic dysfunction. The project is coordinated by the Humboldt County Resource Conservation District.
Humboldt County Public Works provided technical assistance from 2007 through 2009 with funding from the State Coastal Conservancy.
Mad River Bluff Streambank Protection Project
Humboldt County Public Works completed a bioengineering streambank stabilization project in 2008 along the right bank of the lower Mad River, with funding from USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and adjacent landowners.