For a number of years, the board has sought reasoned discourse on the matter — discussions based on facts and science rather than emotion.
Ironically, the board has no jurisdiction over the waters of Eagle Lake or the Bly Tunnel, but it has pursued the issue and sought resolution of the matter in the best interests of Lassen County citizens — particularly those who live or own businesses near Eagle Lake.
The lake’s status as a prime recreation area has sunk with the dropping lake level over eight years of drought.
Obviously a dwindling number of tourists mean smaller incomes for business owners and declining property values for residents.
The country’s economy has decreased in the past few years, too, and no one can say how big an impact the well-reported national economic doldrums have had on the Eagle Lake and its economy. To be sure, profits and property values are down everywhere around the country and all across Lassen County as well.
Recently the board received an obscenity laden presentation by Larry Wosick, the county’s district 3 supervisor, who does not represent constituents in the Eagle Lake Basin. According to Wosick, 1.5 million gallons of water per day are “sucked” out of Eagle Lake and flow through an eight-inch pipe to benefit prominent landowners downstream on Willow Creek. Wosick alleges the board hasn’t turned off the valve on the pipe and shut off the water he claims is being drained from Eagle Lake due to cronyism and corruption by his fellow board members.
Now the argument has come to a head. According to Jeff Fontana, a public information officer with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), two state agencies — the California State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Game — have both written letters to the BLM asking the federal agency to close the valve on the pipe in the Bly Tunnel.
The BLM’s Eagle Lake Field Office Manager Ken Collum appeared before the board last week and acknowledged the BLM had received the letters, and apparently both agencies have reversed their long-held opinions on the water flowing out of the Bly Tunnel.
He also acknowledged his agency is responsible for the pipe running through the Bly Tunnel and the valve that lets the water flow.
In addition, he said the decision about closing the valve is his to make. He declined to say exactly when he would make a decision, but it could come soon.
It’s time to stop playing Button, Button, Who’s Got The Button? and close the valve in the Bly Tunnel once and for all.
Even though the experts say the water flowing out of the tunnel has little effect on the water level at Eagle Lake, the on-going controversy over the tunnel will finally come to an end.
With the end of that debate, everyone can focus on the issues the experts say are really to blame for the low water level at Eagle Lake. A clearer focus may lead to some real solutions.
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