SWIFT launches “A Practitioner’s Guide to Instream Flow Transactions in California”

Tue, 03/29/2016



March 29, 2016


Carson Cox, American Rivers/River Right, (415) 383-1788, ccox@americanrivers.org

Chris Alford, Alford Environmental, (530) 848-6211, alfordenvironmental@gmail.com

Lisa Park, The Nature Conservancy, (408) 821-9255, lpark@tnc.org

Mary Ann King, Trout Unlimited, (510) 649-9987, mking@tu.org

Sari Sommarstrom, Scott River Water Trust, (530) 467-5783, sari@sisqtel.net

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                   

SWIFT launches “A Practitioner’s Guide to Instream Flow Transactions in California”

New guide helps California water rights holders understand their options for keeping water instream

The Small Watershed Instream Flow Transfers Working Group (SWIFT) announced today the release of a new resource for landowners and water diverters in California: A Practitioner’s Guide to Instream Flow Transactions in California. This handbook is a practical guide, written in layman’s terms, to navigating the complex world of water rights for the purpose of leaving water instream to benefit fish and wildlife resources.

California’s trout and salmon, waterfowl, and other species are under increasing pressure from drought, habitat loss and other factors. SWIFT members say it is vitally important that California use all available tools to help keep enough water in streams to restore and sustain the state’s unique fish and wildlife.

The document is available at www.calinstreamguide.org. Additional information is available in Farms-Fish-Flow, a video accompaniment for the Guide.

“We wrote this new guide to help water users—and those assisting them, like consultants, land trusts, watershed groups, and resource conservation districts—better understand their options for keeping water instream in California,” said Amy Hoss of The Nature Conservancy.

SWIFT was formed in 2011 and is composed of Alford Environmental, American Rivers, River Right, Scott River Water Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and Trout Unlimited—all organizations experienced in working with water users and resource agencies to complete the instream flow dedication process with the State Water Board. 

The Guide describes some of the most common types of instream flow transactions and how to navigate the State’s instream flow dedication process to change a water right (as permitted by California Water Code Section 1707), and provides case studies to show how the process has worked in real life.

“We realized that we had a lot of collective experience in helping willing water rights holders to use legal tools for the purpose of dedicating water rights to environmental benefits, so we compiled this guide to document the lessons we’ve learned and to offer helpful suggestions to others,” noted Mary Ann King of Trout Unlimited.

Carson Cox of American Rivers added, “Particularly in the face of the extended drought, water diverters who are willing and able to use their water rights to help fish and wildlife deserve our full support. We hope this Guide makes the process a little less complicated and helps facilitate more water in our rivers and streams.”

“Instream dedications are a voluntary procedure that can allow a water user to have flexibility in letting water stay instream while protecting the water right. Irrigators within our stream system have dedicated seven water rights to instream use for salmon and steelhead benefit during the low flow season,” commented Sari Sommarstrom of the Scott River Water Trust.

Chris Alford of Alford Environmental said, “Tremendous opportunities exist to use water rights in a way that benefit fish and wildlife in addition to other water uses. We want to make sure that water users who would like to use some or all of their existing water rights instream have information about what their options are.”


Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. www.tu.org

Scott River Water Trust is the first and only water trust in California, operating since 2007 in the Scott River watershed of the Klamath Basin, and focuses on win/win water options for farmers and fish. www.scottwatertrust.org

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization that leads projects in all fifty U.S. states designed to conserve and restore aquatic habitat and associated biodiversity in rivers large and small. The Conservancy’s on-the-ground projects experiment with real world solutions for meeting nature’s water needs while also meeting people’s needs. www.nature.org

American Rivers is a national non-profit working to protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers, and conserve clean water for people and nature. www.americanrivers.org

Alford Environmental LLC provides environmental land and water management, conservation planning, and permitting services to agencies, non-profits, and landowners. 

River Right brings together science and regulatory policy to facilitate ecologically effective outcomes for California rivers.


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