[env-trinity] Fresno Bee Editorial 3 29 10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Mar 29 10:54:20 PDT 2010
Full story of Delta stressors yet to be revealed
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a crucial part of California's
complicated and crumbling water system. But instead of being treated with
the respect it deserves, the Delta has been held hostage by feuding
politicians and the special interests who fund them.
It's a recipe for environmental and economic disaster. Even a scientific
study of the crisis has fallen victim to the political spin machine. The
National Academy of Sciences has released the first part of a $1.5 million
study on the science that has led federal wildlife agencies to limit pumping
of agricultural water from the Delta to restore threatened species.
The report was barely released before the sides began "interpreting" its
core findings. Certain environmental groups claimed the science panel had
validated the need for greatly reduced water pumping from the Delta. Farm
interests seized on parts of the report that questioned certain federal
actions aimed at protecting fish.
A close reading of the study reveals that the National Academy's panel
offered a much more nuanced bottom line. Overall, the panel found that most
of the actions by federal agencies to reduce water diversions were
reasonable, based on current understanding of this complex ecosystem.
But there's much more to the story than agricultural pumping, and that's
what the second part of the study will determine. Unfortunately, it is
taking much too long to resolve that second key issue.
This newspaper has acknowledged the negative impact that pumping has on
threatened fish. But it's also clear that other stressors -- including
invasive species and the treated sewage that cities around the Delta are
dumping into the estuary -- have played a role in reducing fish populations.
Unfortunately, federal and state authorities only want to limit farm
pumping, while ignoring the other causes. It's much easier for them to dump
the entire problem on agriculture than tell cities that they must find
multi-million-dollar solutions to their sewage dumping.
The National Academy's panel noted in the report that much more integrated
analysis is needed to better understand this system. No surprise there.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who originally sought the study, and farm groups had
hoped the panel would help them in their efforts to suspend two biological
opinions that have restricted water diversions.
The National Academy panel will now complete the second part of its review,
which is expected to take 20 months and cost another $750,000. That report
will finally examine the array of factors -- not just water diversions --
that are harming the Delta and complicating water shipments. It's amazing
that isn't being looked at until now.
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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