[env-trinity] Fresno Bee 2 2 10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Feb 3 11:30:00 PST 2010
Water groups fight salmon plan in court
By John Ellis
A coalition of water districts and agencies asked a federal judge in Fresno
on Tuesday to set aside a controversial salmon management plan because it
reduces water deliveries to urban and agricultural users.
U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger is weighing a decision after hearing
four hours of testimony. He promised a ruling by Tuesday, the date of
another hearing dealing with the salmon management plan.
Among those seeking the order were the Westlands Water District, which takes
in a large portion of the west side of the central San Joaquin Valley. Also
among the plaintiffs were the Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California, which serves 19 million people.
All depend on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for water. The temporary
ruling, if granted, would be in place while a more permanent measure is
sought. The water agencies want the salmon management plan rewritten to
allow more water to be pumped.
Federal officials had to rewrite the plan after Wanger in 2008 found an
earlier set of rules did not adequately protect the endangered fish species.
The rules cover salmon varieties that are protected by the Endangered
On Tuesday, attorneys for the water agencies argued that water cutbacks when
salmon are in the vicinity of the delta pumps are causing irreparable harm
to water users. They also said the salmon now near the pumps are fall-run
salmon -- which are not endangered -- and not the protected winter run.
"We submit there is no harm currently to the winter run [salmon], because
there is no winter run," said attorney Keith Adair, who represents Westlands
and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.
Urban and agriculture users that depend on delta water say they are losing
6,000 acre-feet of water per day because of the new salmon rules. An
acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons, or enough water for a family of four for
But federal government attorneys and their environmental allies defended the
new salmon rules. U.S. Department of Justice attorney Bridget Kennedy McNeil
accused the water users of "trying to eliminate protections."
McNeil also countered Adair, saying "the winter-run [salmon] are on the move
and more of them can be expected in February."
Tuesday's hearing was also slated to include the delta smelt, but Wanger
delayed action because the species is not currently causing water cutbacks.
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land/fax (call first to fax)
415 519 4810 mobile
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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