Trinity River

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.