[env-trinity] SF Chronicle 3 20 10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Sat Mar 20 13:03:01 PDT 2010
Study backs efforts to save delta fish
Justin Berton, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Lance Iversen / The Chronicle
type=newsbayarea> 1 closing for Devil's Slide work 03.20.10
Score one for the fish.
A study by the National Academy of Sciences declared Friday that the efforts
to save endangered fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta by
restricting water delivery are "scientifically justified."
The study was meant to offer a decisive word on an issue that has been
referred to as "fish vs. farms," with agricultural interests arguing that
water diversions are parching their crops and livelihoods.
The authors said the complexity of the issue left them wanting more evidence
to determine the best time of the year to impose restrictions, and that
"scientific support for specific flow targets is less certain."
The pumping of water from the delta to cities in Southern California and
farmers in the Central Valley caused populations of salmon, smelt and other
fish to decline, according to federal biological opinions in 2008 and 2009.
Those opinions led to reduced pumping for agricultural and residential use.
Ann Hayden, a senior water resource analyst in the San Francisco office of
the Environmental Defense Fund, said her group felt vindicated by the
"We're looking forward to moving on from this whole fish vs. farm focus,"
she said. "This study was clear: It's the foundation that will help us all
move toward long-term solutions for the sustainability of the delta."
Some farmers had hoped the study would overturn the two biological opinions
by federal agencies and return water to their fields.
Dan Nelson, the executive director of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water
Authority in Los Banos (Merced County), who has argued on behalf of farmers,
viewed the study as a "mixed bag."
"The good things in there said we should look beyond the pumping system,"
Nelson said. "We need to look at other factors and options, not just the
pumps. But it sounds like there's still a tremendous amount of uncertainty
of how well it works. ... I think we can all agree we're trying to get these
fisheries turned around, and we're just looking for the best way to do it."
In a statement from her office, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who called for the
study, said, "I'd like to note that nothing in this report indicates that
there is a need to enforce more rigorous pumping restrictions.
"For me, the key conclusion from this report is the need to integrate the
two biological opinions, which would provide better clarity, better
management and stronger scientific justification for all federal actions in
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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