[env-trinity] Judge rejects delay in delta pumping restrictions

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Feb 10 17:45:05 PST 2010

Judge rejects delay in delta pumping restrictions 

Posted at 02:08 PM on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010
  By John Ellis / The Fresno Bee 

 A federal judge today rejected an emergency request by west Valley
agricultural and urban water users to delay a new set of water-pumping
restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger's ruling means one of five delta pumps
operated by the federal government will be shut down at 7 a.m. Thursday. The
action is being taken to protect the delta smelt, a fish listed as
threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands Water District - which gets its
water from the delta - said the water agencies will seek another emergency
order next week from Wanger, though he declined to be specific. 

 "As General MacArthur said, 'we'll be back,'" said Birmingham, who
personally argued the matter today before Wanger.

The delta pumps - which send water to west-side agriculture, including
Westlands, as well as to millions of urban users from the East Bay to
Southern California - have been running at full capacity since Saturday.

That happened after Wanger put a two-week hold on pumping restrictions that
were put into place last week to protect endangered winter-run salmon.

Environmentalists and fishing groups had asked Wanger to reconsider that
winter-run salmon order, but the judge said the request was now moot because
the salmon will be protected by the pumping cuts associated with the delta

Judge: CA Pumping Limits Needed to Protect Smelt
Judge keeps California delta pumping limits in place to protect threatened
The Associated Press
FRESNO, Calif. 


A federal judge turned down California farmers' emergency request Wednesday
to suspend water pumping restrictions in the state's delta in a ruling aimed
at keeping a threatened fish species from being ground up in the pumps.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger means regulators will
follow federal limits on the amount of water they can draw from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a delicate ecosystem that serves as the hub of
California's water supply.

The restrictions were put in place to protect the smelt, a finger-sized fish
considered a bellwether of the delta's health, as they swim downstream into
the Pacific Ocean.

"This is good news for the smelt, and it's good news for the smelt," said
Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of
Fishermen's Associations, whose members have struggled with the broad
decline in wild salmon runs in California. "It means that there will be a
better chance that the fish will survive."

Farmers across the fertile San Joaquin Valley argued those same limits have
caused millions of dollars in crop losses as the shortages have forced them
to fallow their fields and lay off thousands of farmworkers.

An attorney for the Westlands Water District, which gets its water from the
delta, said water districts plan to appeal Wanger's decision.

"We can't plant any of our annual crops until we know what kind of water
supply we're going to get this year," said Don Devine, a Fresno farmer who
grows organic sweet corn and cantaloupes on the valley's dry west side.
"It's a heartbreaker to have to lay people off, but we've had no choice
because there's no water."

Both the state and federal government run massive pumps that siphon drinking
and irrigation water from the delta to more than 25 million Californians and
the farms that produce half the nation's fruits and vegetables.

Last week, Judge Wanger agreed to temporarily lift a similar set of pumping
limits aimed at safeguarding native, wild salmon.

The federal government began pumping at full capacity on Saturday, freeing
up some water for farmers crippled by two years of limited deliveries.

But Tuesday, federal biologists announced they had found dead smelt near the
pumps and said unrestricted pumping risked pushing the fish into extinction.

As a result, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation plans to shut off one of its
five pumps on Thursday. Those restrictions will serve to protect both the
smelt and salmon, and could last until June 30.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright C 2010 ABC News Internet Ventures


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

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (Secondary)

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


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