Steelhead recovery plan could be costly for Santa Maria

Nearly 30 percent of the groundwater supply in the Santa Maria Valley could be affected by efforts to recharge the Santa Maria River to aid steelhead trout recovery, according to the city’s top utilities official.

The ramifications of diverting water used by the city and agricultural could be severe, said city Utilities Director Rick Sweet.

“It would be economically devastating to the Santa Maria Valley to lose that much water,” he said.

An in-stream flow study of the Santa Maria River is the subject of a public meeting in Santa Maria on Monday.

It could lead to state Department of Fish and Game recommendations to the state Water Resources Control Board to issue new Twitchell Reservoir flow releases meant to maintain sufficient water in the lower Santa Maria River, which is dry most of the year.

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