[env-trinity] For Westlands, Bollibokka and Now Part of Yolo County
bwl3 at comcast.net
Sat Dec 15 10:55:58 PST 2007
Westlands Water District to Provide Habitat for Delta Smelt
FRESNO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--California farmers are coming to the aid of
a tiny endangered fish, the Delta Smelt. The Westlands Water District
announced today that it acquired property in the northern Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta. The District plans to restore natural tidal wetlands and
upland habitat for the protection and conservation of listed species,
including the smelt.
"We're trying to solve a problem that is of critical importance, not just
for agriculture but also for 25 million Californians who get drinking water
and water for irrigation from supplies conveyed through and pumped from the
Delta," said Tom Birmingham, General Manager of Westlands.
As the smelt's numbers have declined, a federal court in California has
ordered new restrictions on Central Valley Project and State Water Project
operations that will result in massive water supply reductions, amounting to
a loss of one-third of the water that is normally delivered from the Delta.
Those deliveries are needed to supply billions of dollars worth of
agricultural production in the Central Valley and meet the water needs of
two-thirds of the state's residents.
These restrictions are in addition to prior restrictions prescribed for the
protection of the smelt and come on top of two years of an ongoing drought.
As a result, many experts are predicting major losses for the state's
economy and water shortages in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County, and
"Saving the smelt is an issue of self-preservation for most of California,"
Birmingham said. "Regulation of the state's water supply projects alone
hasn't worked, and as a public agency with responsibility for providing
water for more than 500,000 acres of farmland, the District's Board of
Directors decided we need to act directly to help solve a critical problem."
"We recognize that water is a sensitive issue, in Yolo County as in the rest
of the state," Birmingham said. "We plan to be a good neighbor in Yolo."
The Delta property that Westlands acquired is in the area identified by
state and federal fisheries experts as the prime location to create habitat
for the smelt. Lying at the southernmost tip of Yolo County, the property is
currently used for farming. Westlands plans to convert portions of the
property to create habitat for the smelt and maintain the rest in
"The plight of the smelt is just one part of the problems facing the Delta,"
Birmingham pointed out. "We're working with other public water agencies,
state and federal authorities, and the scientific community to define ways
to restore the Delta, increase the reliability and adequacy of water
deliveries, and ensure the safety of the public water supply. It is a
complicated process, but everyone agrees that protecting the smelt is an
essential element of any comprehensive plan for restoring the Delta and
providing improved conveyance."
The Westlands Water District serves a community of more than 600 families
who farm some of the most productive agricultural lands in the world.
Westlands is constantly changing to meet the needs of a dynamic marketplace,
enhance the environment, expand the diversity of its crops and apply the
most advanced irrigation techniques and technology for water conservation
and long-term sustainable production.
Westlands is the largest agricultural water district in the United States.
It encompasses more than 600,000 acres in an area 15 miles wide and 70 miles
long on the west side of California's Central Valley. To address chronic
water supply shortages resulting from environmental regulations in the Delta
Westlands has, at its own expense, fallowed nearly 100,000 acres.
The value of the food and fiber produced by Westlands farmers currently
totals $1 billion dollars a year and the regional economic activity
generated by its operations exceeds $3.5 billion annually. Diversity is the
key to the district's continuing prosperity. Twenty five years ago, for
example, 79 percent of the district's lands were planted in cotton, wheat
and other field crops. Today more than 61 percent of the district's lands
are producing fruits and vegetables as well as permanent crops such as
almonds, pistachios and grapes.
Westlands is a world leader in water conservation. Scientific research and
innovation keep Westlands at the cutting edge of new technology. From its
inception, Westlands' distribution system has been fully enclosed, to
eliminate losses from evaporation and leakage. Laser-levelling,
computer-aided drip irrigation and the extensive use of global positioning
systems help Westlands farmers achieve efficiencies of water use of 85
percent or more.
Friends of Trinity River, Chair
California Trout, Inc., Advisor
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810
415 383 9562 fax
bwl3 at comcast.net
bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)
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