Fix or Fight?

Fritz Durst, Board chair of Reclamation District 108, gives opening remarks at Wallace Weir

At the celebration of the construction of the new Wallace Weir, Fritz Durst called everyone to join the assembled collaborators to fix problems instead of fighting. People often refer to California “water wars” and as a result many problems remain intractable. The Northern California Water Agency and its members have been working hard to find ways to solve problems, sometimes at risk to their own interests. This project is one of over 49 identified to improve the chances for endangered salmon to return in the Sacramento River Salmon Recovery Program. They are joined by other stakeholders including local, regional and state agencies.

I have been working in the Yolo Bypass on behalf of Metropolitan Water Agency of SoCal to try to find common ground with a diverse group of stakeholders. We are seeking solutions that will allow endangered salmon fish to benefit from the floodplain in the winter whilst limiting the impact to the other land uses already in place, that is flood control, farms, waterfowl habitat and terrestrial species habitat.

It has taken a few years, but at last  we all agreed to move ahead with the fish passage projects. The Wallace Weir is one of the first to be constructed. Its purpose is to keep returning salmon from migrating up the Colusa Basin Drain where they are then lost and cannot spawn in the upper reaches of the Sacramento River. The weir has traditionally been installed each year to allow farmers above to pump water from the Ridge Cut. Then it is removed at the end of the irrigation season. This new structure will serve to control the water and catch up fish to be rescued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A definite fix.


I had the good fortune to also hear Lynn Twist, author of The Soul of Money, speak several times at What If? Conference and at St John’s Lutheran Church the day before the Wallace Weir event. She had similar advice. We can take a stand or take a position. Most people take a position, adopt a point of view ,and look to argue and fight over it. If we take a stand, say for equality as Martin Luther King Jr. did, then we must be willing to look at many perspectives and find solutions.  Fix not fight.