Jim Morgan favors increased water storage in the Northern Sierra

In the last week a few people have forwarded to us an article by Jim Morgan, a dedicated and prominent environmentalist in the Northern Sierras and the president of the Northern Sierra Partnership’s Governing Council. The article was apparently being sent by the Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) in support of their current plans for the Donner Summit Valley. This excellent article stresses the critical need for increased water storage in the Northern Sierra in light of coming climate change and increased threat of drought. We highly recommend that everyone that is concerned about the future of the Sierras and California read this article (click here).

Summit Valley water storage before and after notching the Van Norden Dam by 5 ft.


As strong supporters for preservation of Van Norden Lake and wetlands we were heartened to see that leaders in the field such as Jim Morgan support the importance of water storage in the Sierras. We have already discussed similar views by Dr Charles Goldman in a previous post. We found it somewhat puzzling however, that TDLT was distributing this article ostensibly in support of their plan to drain the primary water resource in the Donner Summit Valley. Their plan to lower the water table in the valley by 5 ft and drain a lake of over 180 acre-ft and its surrounding wetlands thereby decreasing water storage in the valley by 96% flies in the face of everything that the article is proposing. It must have been the one reference to “meadow restoration” as one means of increasing water storage that prompted TDLT to miss the main point of the article. Of course the restoration of many of the dry meadows in the Sierras with state of the art techniques will help to improve water storage in those meadows. The Perrazo Meadow area is a perfect example of how these techniques can work to improve water storage.

What TDLT seems to have missed is that unlike Perrazo Meadows, the Donner Summit Valley is not a dry meadow in need of restoration. It does in fact support a valuable lake that charges the acquifer of the entire valley. Following the logic and direction of Jim Morgan’s article, it would make sense at the very least to preserve the current water storage in the valley, as we propose. You could even make the argument, as many have, that increasing the size of the lake and adding more valuable water storage would be more in keeping with the emphasis of the article. We would hope that TDLT take a closer look at this article and reconsider their plan to decrease the much needed waters in Van Norden Lake and wetlands.

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