Judge sides with smelt; California water supplies in
FRESNO, August 31, 2007, Central Valley Business Times
• Ruling would restrict pumping to 25 Million
• ‘A devastating blow to our water supply system’
A U.S. District court judge late Friday agreed with
environmentalists’ claims that the tiny Delta smelt is
endangered by current pumping levels of the State Water
Project and the Central Valley Project, the vast water
systems that serve about 25 million Californians.
survives expected appeals, the ruling would restrict water
deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the Bay
Area, the Central Valley and Southern California.
Oliver Wanger's decision is a devastating blow to our water
supply system and state economy,” says Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger in a written statement Friday night. "This
decision is also going to have a devastating impact on the
state's economy and the 25 million Californians who depend
on Delta water.”
populations of the tiny, minnow-like Delta smelt have
declined dramatically in recent years. Environmentalists say
one reason is that they are sucked into the giant pumps of
the two water delivery systems and killed.
agencies contend the declining populations could be due to a
myriad of other reasons.
ruling is an unprecedented cutback in our statewide water
supply, forcing local water agencies to scramble to identify
back up water sources and find ways to lessen direct impacts
on their customers," says Laura King Moon, executive
director of State Water Contractors, a non-profit
association of 27 public agencies.
California's history, have we had a court impose such a
massive reduction in the water use - and it is not clear
that even this extraordinary action will save the Delta
smelt given all the other threats to its existence," she
In May, Mr.
Wanger ruled that an assessment by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service about how endangered the smelt really are
was flawed and required rewriting.
smelt is undisputedly in jeopardy as to its survival and
recovery,” Mr. Wanger wrote in that opinion.
Schwarzenegger says the latest opinion underscores the need
to invest in a better water conveyance system.
today's ruling, there can be no doubt, we need more water
storage and greater conservation efforts to meet the needs
of our growing population, respond to the challenge climate
change presents and meet the requirements of what the court
has imposed,” the governor says.