[env-trinity] Sacramento Bee 11-27-10

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Nov 30 16:10:18 PST 2010

Water diversions are killing the Delta
Sacramento Bee-11/27/10
By Marc M. Gorelnik

California Department of Fish and Game Director John McCamman expresses well
the perspective of those who would irresponsibly drain the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta of fresh water. The fundamental issue isn't where the water is
taken - pump or canal - but that too much fresh water is already taken. 

For millennia, a hydrologic tug of war has played out in the Delta and San
Francisco Bay between freshwater outflows from the Sacramento and San
Joaquin rivers on the one hand, and the rising and falling tidewaters of the
salty Pacific Ocean. This creates a rich estuarine environment that feeds
countless birds, amphibians, fish and other animals. 

Aside from the inherent benefits of a healthy environment, a well-cared-for
Delta and bay have great economic value, providing jobs and recreational
opportunities for all Californians, rich and poor alike. 

When excessive amounts of fresh water are impounded and diverted, the
Pacific Ocean handily wins the tug of war, radically changing the
environment. It doesn't really matter how far upstream the fresh water is
taken. Its depletion destroys ecosystems and their associated fisheries,
including the iconic and valuable fall-run chinook salmon runs that - until
a few years ago - exceeded 600,000 fish. 

In 2009, in the complete absence of any recreational or commercial fishing,
fewer than 40,000 of these fish returned to spawn. Other salmon runs from
the Sacramento River are already listed under the Endangered Species Act.
State and federal water studies have consistently held that the Delta is
being starved of fresh water. The Delta must be restored and protected. 

Since at least 1988, the need to increase freshwater flows has been widely
recognized, albeit disregarded owing to the powerful political forces of
those that benefit richly from this public trust resource. The State Water
Resources Control Board determined that 1.6 million acre-feet of additional
freshwater flows were needed to protect and restore the estuary, and in 1992
the federal Central Valley Project Improvement Act required that 800,000
acre-feet be restored to freshwater flows. None of these flows has been

Assuming diversions are brought in line with the freshwater demands of the
Delta and bay, there may be merit to all stakeholders in a canal over the
existing pumps. However, the promotion of an expensive canal in addition to
existing pumps belies the agenda of McCamman and those he speaks for: more
water exports to benefit a few Californians, the environment be damned.# 

Marc M. Gorelnik is director of the Coastside Fishing Club, with members
throughout San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.


Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 mobile

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

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