In recent weeks, federal fish agencies have sharply curtailed Delta pumping operations that deliver water to farms and cities south of the Delta, citing the need to protect the threatened Delta smelt. More than 700,000 acre feet of water that could have been stored in San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos for later use by cities and farms has instead been diverted to the ocean. Pumping levels were reduced from approximately 15,000 cubic feet per second to only 2,000 cubic feet per second in December.
Federal agencies insist that reducing water export operations at the State Water Project and Central Valley Projects pumps is a necessary and effective strategy for protection of the Delta smelt.
“Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley and beyond who rely on the state and federal water projects should be looking at a more reliable water supply, not more uncertainty and reduction in supply,” said WG President and CEO Tom Nassif. “Endangered Species Act restrictions on water deliveries were invalidated by a federal court two years ago. In light of that fact, a more moderate approach should be employed while new rules are drafted. Yet in recent weeks, the federal fish agencies have imposed the same draconian restrictions that were the centerpiece of the rules invalidated by the court. The first people who will be directly hurt are farm workers and farmers in the San Joaquin Valley.
“The determination of federal fish agencies to continue cutting back water supplies for farms should add even greater urgency to the Governor’s plan for improved conveyance of water through the Delta. However, the tunnels envisioned in that project will take years to construct. We will push for greater oversight of the federal fish agencies to restore a reasonable balance in Delta pumping operations.”
For more information, contact WG’s Dave Puglia at (916) 446-1435.
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