Feb. 7, 2012 • Bureau of Land Management closes Bly Tunnel valves

The Bly Tunnel was constructed in the 1920s to carry water from Eagle Lake to the Honey Lake Valley.

In all likelihood, the controversy surrounding the valves in the Bly Tunnel and the water that flows through them probably soon shifts from the public sector to the courts — because water users downstream on Willow Creek who have adjudicated water rights to that water have threatened legal action should the valves be closed.

That consideration aside, Ken Collum, field manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s Eagle Lake Field Office, announced the valves in the Bly Tunnel were closed and locked just before noon today, Thursday, Feb. 2.

Collum said his decision to close the valves was based on an opinion from the State Water Resources Control Board that the release of water through the Bly Tunnel “constitutes a waste or unreasonable use of water and constitutes an unreasonable method of diversion.”

The California Department of Fish and Game also asked BLM to close the valves.

Those adversely affected by Collum’s decision may appeal to the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Interior, Board of Land Appeals Board within 30 days.

When asked if he thought the closure of the valves would have an effect on the water level at Eagle Lake, Collum said, “Not in our lifetime.”