Siskiyou County Tribe Joins Coalition Against Building Sites Reservoir

The proposed Sites Reservoir near Maxwell is seen by many as a big step toward solving California’s water storage problems, but it’s seen as a potential disaster by a Native American tribe many miles and mountains away. The Karuk are primarily in Siskiyou County, and their ancestral river is the Klamath. That river has suffered many problems with its salmon runs, most notably a massive die-off in 2002 due to Klamath water being diverted upriver. The Karuk have signed on to a coalition to oppose the Sites Reservoir, with members including the Winnemum Wintu and other tribes, as well as commercial fishing organizations. The Karuk are connected because the Trinity River is a tributary to the Klamath, and some of the Trinity River water is diverted to the Sacramento River via Whiskeytown Lake. The coalition says plans are already in the works to deliver water from the Trinity to Sites for use by customers in the valley, and that there was never a formal consultation with the affected tribes, or disclosure of a number of issues including water quality, inundation of mine tailings, potential for algae blooms, or any clear operations plan. The coalition is seeking a redistribution of the Sites Reservoir Environmental Impact Report.


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