The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and AquAlliance issued a 24 June 2011 press release publicly questioning the basis of Pacific Legal Foundation’s lawsuit challenging the legal basis of Endangered Species Act protections for the Delta Smelt. The lawsuit is one of many recent lawsuits based on Westland Water District’s claims of huge reductions in irrigated acreage on the West side of the San Joaquin Valley as a result of Endangered Species Act restrictions on Delta pumping.
New research has raised serious questions about the veracity of Westlands’ claims. California Water Research Associates recently issued a report showing that 100,000 acres of land, which Westlands claimed was fallowed as a result of Delta pumping restrictions, was actually retired because of toxic salt and boron contamination of soils adversely affecting agricultural production.
CSPA’s Executive Director Bill Jennings observed, “The simple fact is that restrictions on pumping Delta water have nothing to do with the fallowing of Westlands’ 100,000 acres of retired land. Blaming the farmers’ problems on the Delta smelt and the Endangered Species Act is a red herring masking the Pacific Legal Foundation’s philosophical objections to the concept of protecting endangered species. Delta smelt is simply the canary in the coal mine representing the collapse of the biological tapestry in the Bay-Delta estuary.”