The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency today released its final biological opinion on salmon and steelhead in the Delta and the river systems that feed it, placing significant blame for declines of these species on the state and federal water supply pumps in the south Delta and ordering an average cutback of 330,000 acre feet of supplied water per year. These reductions come on top of previously ordered reductions in water supply as required by the federal biological opinion on Delta smelt.
Today’s opinion will result in diminishing water supply for farmers in the San Joaquin Valley as well as millions living in southern California.
“This opinion was expected, but is still most troubling news for California farmers,’ said Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers. “We continue to work and share goals with others who feel differently, but the manner in which the Endangered Species Act is being implemented is directly causing the destruction of farm businesses and the jobs of tens of thousands of Californians. These very real and very serious harms to the human species are simply being ignored. It should now be sadly clear that there is a lack of will in the federal government to implement the Endangered Species Act in a more reasonable way in order to give some consideration to human needs. California’s Senators and Representatives must push now for oversight hearings and exemption of the state’s water supply pumps from the Act if we are to prevent a complete economic and environmental catastrophe in the San Joaquin Valley in 2010.”
Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose nearly 3,000 members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship ninety percent of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California and seventy five percent of those commodities in Arizona. This totals about half of the nation’s fresh produce.