[env-trinity] Delta Issues

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Nov 18 07:47:24 PST 2009

Federal judge makes new ruling in Delta water/smelt case 

Central Valley Business Times


2 new lawsuits to save S.F. Bay-delta smelt

S.F. Chronicle



The federal Bureau of Reclamation may have to reconsider whether cutbacks in
pumping fresh water out of the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta to protect the
Delta smelt are worth the human environmental costs, under a ruling handed
down Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger in Fresno.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the smelt, a minnow-like fish that
lives only in the Delta, had to be protected. The Bureau of Reclamation then
cut water deliveries to customers in the Central Valley.


Severe restrictions of water deliveries have been blamed for fields lying
fallow this year and rising unemployment rates ion the west side of the


But the Bureau of Reclamation failed to prepare a critical Environmental
Impact Statement and thus violated the National Environmental Policy Act,
the court says.


The impact of Friday's decision is expected to become more clear when the
court conducts a remedies hearing on Nov. 24.# 





2 new lawsuits to save S.F. Bay-delta smelt

S.F. Chronicle-11/15/09

Bob Egelko


Two environmental groups sued the federal government Friday seeking greater
habitat protections for two San Francisco Bay-delta fish species, one of
them the delta smelt, a small but important creature in California's water


One lawsuit asks a federal judge in Sacramento to require the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service to respond to the groups' March 2006 request to change the
delta smelt's status from "threatened" to "endangered." That action would
somewhat tighten federal standards for development or water-use permits. 


A second suit, filed in San Francisco, challenges the federal agency's
decision in April to deny protected status to the bay-delta population of
the longfin smelt. The agency said the local population is not a distinct
group entitled to protection because some of the fish migrate up the coast
to breed with other longfin, a conclusion the environmental groups called a
reversal of the government's longtime position.


"Formerly abundant fish at the base of the food chain in the San Francisco
estuary are being driven to near extinction," said Jeff Miller of the Center
for Biological Diversity, which filed the suits along with the Bay


Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Steve Martarano said his agency is still
reviewing the status of both fish, and cited recent federal surveys showing
both populations at historically low levels. 


The agency issued a biological opinion on the delta smelt in December that
triggered a government order of reduced water shipments from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, angering Central Valley farm groups and
prompting an unsuccessful protest from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Martarano also said there's no practical difference between the law's
protections for endangered and threatened species, both of which are
entitled to government designation of critical habitat and a recovery plan.


Miller agreed but said the lawsuits, if successful, would strengthen
environmental safeguards that affect other species - Central Valley salmon,
sturgeon and steelhead - and counter the state's pressure for water


He criticized legislation signed by Schwarzenegger this week that puts an
$11.1 billion water bond on the November 2010 ballot, including funding for
delta protection and restoration, new dams, and potentially a peripheral
canal to carry water around the delta. Environmental groups are split on the


Biologists say the delta smelt, 2 to 3 inches long, is an indicator of the
health of the ecosystem. Court rulings and regulatory decisions since 2007,
designed to save the once-abundant fish from extinction, have substantially
reduced pumping of water from the delta to Central Valley croplands and
Southern California households.#



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)

http://www.fotr.org <http://fotr.org/>  




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