Grape Growers asked to help out Russian river salmon and steelhead

February 2, 2010 15:26
Although the ruling, if passed, won't come into effect until 2011, California state water officials want to curtail the use of diverted water from the Russian River and its tributaries for grape frost protection, thereby ensuring juvenile salmon and steelhead aren't left stranded on their yearly migration routes, reports ( with reference to FishWise.

Both federal officials and environmental groups have urged the state Water Resources Control Board to approve new rules to ensure there is adequate water in the river system for salmon and steelhead during frosty spring nights when many grape growers spray water over their vines to freeze the green buds in ice, which keeps the plant tissue safe at a constant 32-degree temperature.

Efforts are being made to determine the minimum flow rate required for the endemic salmonids to move up and down stream unabated.  When flow rates are below this level, all water diversion must be halted and water from storage reservoirs, for example, be used.

Alexander Valley grape grower, David Fanucchi says he "will cooperate to save fish, but we want to save our industry". If his sentiments are widely held, the path to reform could be a bumpy one.

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