officials Thursday morning stopped exporting water from
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to protect the
threatened Delta smelt, a tiny native fish that appears
to be on the brink of extinction.
announced in a press release by the California
Department of Water Resources, could mean water
shortages for some cities and farms served by the
California Aqueduct, which conveys water exported by the
state's Delta pumps near Tracy. But it was not clear
Thursday afternoon who will be affected and for how
long. Some users will be able to continue drawing water
already in the aqueduct. The Delta supplies 23 million
Californians with a portion of their drinking water, as
well as to 5 million acres of farmland.
The action follows bad news from a recent population
survey for smelt. Preliminary results from the annual
spring survey turned up only 25 smelt at regular survey
points in the Delta, down from a seven-year average of
353 fish. On May 14, state officials also began finding
dead smelt in the pumping system. This is a routine
event, but had not occurred previously this year. DWR
decided to halt the massive pumps when numbers of smelt
in the pumping system began to increase.