To provide a perspective on the interrelationship between fish salvage and water exports from the state and federal project export facilities in the South Delta, CSPA has assembled the graphs of salvage/exports between January & October for the years 1993 – 2013 for chinook salmon, striped bass and delta smelt. These graphs come from the California Department and Fish and Wildlife and provide a fascinating perspective on the adverse impacts of Delta water exports.
It should be kept in mind that as many as 15 million fish, of all species, are “salvaged” each year at the pumps. However, salvage numbers only represent the tip of the iceberg. Only about 11-18% of salmon entrained in Clifton Court Forebay survive. Based upon numerous studies, 75% of entrained salmon are lost to predation (or 85.6% if all eight studies are averaged), 20-30% of survivors are lost at the salvage facility louvers, 1-12% of salvage fish are lost during handling plus an additional 12-32% lost to post-release predation. Delta smelt losses are far higher. For every adult delta smelt counted in salvage, at least 37 perished before reaching the fish salvage facility and none of the “salvaged” are likely to survive transport. Larval delta smelt are simply too small to be screened and counted.
CSPA has long maintained that the outdated 1950’s technology fish screens and salvage facilities must be updated to state-of-the-art design standards and that only about three million acre-feet of water can be safely exported from the estuary if our degraded fisheries are to be protected.