Judge OKs water releases for Klamath salmon

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation plans to release cold Trinity River water into the lower Klamath through Sept. 21 to prevent a die-off of the chinook salmon that need more water to spawn.

The plan was challenged by water districts representing growers who receive irrigation water from the federal Central Valley Project, supplies that have been sharply reduced this year because of weather-related shortages. U.S. District Judge Lawrence O’Neill of Fresno had granted their request to block the releases Aug. 13 and said the plan may exceed the government’s legal authority.

But O’Neill denied an injunction Thursday that could have canceled the remaining month of scheduled flows. He said the legal issues remain uncertain, but the prospect of harm to the salmon, 11 years after a disastrous fish kill in the same waters, tipped the scales.

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