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Scott River and Shasta River Watersheds Emergency Regulation

On May 10, 2021, Governor Newsom declared a drought emergency for 41 counties, including Siskiyou County, where accelerated action is needed to protect public health, safety, as well as the environment. During winter 2023, California received above-average precipitation across many parts of the state. On March 24, 2023, Governor Newsom signed an executive order removing emergency drought provisions in select watersheds. In the winter of 2022 and 2023, the Scott River (Scott) and Shasta River (Shasta) watersheds did not receive the same degree of precipitation as other parts of the state. The Klamath River watershed was not included in this order and is still subject to the 2021 drought proclamation and emergency provisions.

On May 23, 2023, the Karuk Tribe of California, Environmental Law Foundation, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and Institute for Fisheries Resources submitted a petition for rulemaking to the State Water Board requesting a permanent regulation establishing minimum flows in the Scott. After an August 15, 2023 hearing on the petition, the State Water Board directed Division of Water Rights staff to

  • Move forward with an emergency regulation.
  • Identify the scientific work needed to pursue long-term flows in the Scott River and Shasta River watersheds, and update the Board on that work.

On December 19, 2023, the State Water Board adopted a new emergency regulation for the Scott and Shasta River Watersheds. The Office of Administrative Law approved the emergency regulation on February 1, 2024 and is in effect for one year, unless re-adopted or rescinded.

The Scott and Shasta are important tributaries to the Klamath River, the second largest river in California. These rivers are crucial sources of water for Siskiyou County and have immense economic, ecological, and cultural importance. Siskiyou County is home to 43,500 people. The Scott and Shasta watersheds provide water for agriculture, domestic users, the environment, fire protection, municipalities, Tribal Nations, and recreation.

Local and state governments and community members are collaborating to address water shortages. Below are links to information regarding activities in the Scott and Shasta watersheds related to emergency regulation and flow efforts. This website will be updated with applicable information regarding water conditions, public meetings, and actions. Please check back frequently as the effort is rapidly developing.

Scott River Canyon
Scott River Canyon

New Emergency Regulation Topics (2024 Effort)

  • Coming soon: Simplified Guidance Document for Human Health and Safety (Hmong Translation)
  • Coming soon: Guidance document for Human Health and Safety
  • Coming soon: Guidance Document for Livestock Watering
  • Disclaimer: The information below are studies that have been submitted for consideration regarding the flow regulation on the Scott and Shasta Rivers and are posted for informational purposes only. The State Water Board is not endorsing this information by providing it on its website.
  • Scott River Watershed
    • Foglia et al. (2013) Scott Valley Integrated Hydrologic Model Final Report
    • Aylward et al. (2016) Measuring Cost-Effectiveness of Environmental Water Transactions
    • Morrisett et al. (2023) The irrigation efficiency trap: rational farm-scale decisions can lead to poor hydrologic outcomes at the basin scale
    • Riverbend Sciences (2023) Evaluating the hydrologic effects of the 2021-2022 Scott and Shasta irrigation curtailments using remote sensing and streamflow gages
    • Podlech (2022) Memorandum, August 31, 2022, Review of CDFW Recommendations for the 2022 Readoption of Drought Emergency Regulations on the Scott River and Recommendations for Future Management During Extreme Drought Conditions
    • Scott River Water Trust (website) Monitoring and Studies
  • Shasta River Watershed
  • Both Watersheds

The following funding opportunities provide funding for habitat restoration, water efficiency, instream flow dedications, fish passage, and other project types.

  • If you have questions related to the Scott and Shasta River Drought Response, you can reach State Water Resource Control Board staff by:

Petitions for Rulemaking (2021, 2023, & 2024)

  Expired Drought Emergency Regulation Topics (2021-2023)

2023 Outreach

2022 Outreach

2021 Outreach

  How to Conserve

   Klamath River watershed residents can help! Surface and groundwater users can help lessen drought impacts, and even small efforts can result in huge benefits for flows and fish.

Here are just a few ways to help:

  • Reduce diversions from surface and groundwater sources
  • Conserve water, limit non-food irrigation, and reuse graywater (i.e., water from sinks, showers, baths, washing machines, or dishwashers)
  • Coordinate diversion timing with neighbors to reduce cumulative effects
  • Prepare for ongoing drought by exploring water storage options (e.g., rain collection, roofwater harvesting, or tank storage)

   Click here for more water saving tips.

  How to Report an Unauthorized Diversion or Water Waste

Report an Environmental Concern logo

  Visit the CalEPA Complaint System to report unauthorized diversions, such as violations of water right permits or diversions impacting fisheries.

Save Our Water logo

  Visit savewater.ca.gov to report water waste, such as leaks and overwatering, to your local water agency.

  Stay informed

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