On the heels of mandatory urban water conservation requirements, the news is spreading that reduced delta inflows are not enough to support endangered delta fish populations. The articles below take a look at how California’s limited water supply is being shared, and begs the question: who are we conserving water for?
On April 20, 2015 the San Francisco Chronicle Open Form published Don’t ignore the San Francisco Bay’s needs during the drought. In the article Gary Bobker, director of the Bay Institute, describes how “in order to save water over the last two years, the State Water Resources Control Board has virtually eliminated even the minimal bay inflows required under the Clean Water Act — which the state has acknowledged were already insufficient to protect the estuary.” The apparent flaw is that the SWRCB is only ‘saving’ water for thirsty farms, not endangered delta species.
Comstock’s Groves & Fishes: There is water war brewing between farmers and fisherman was also published on April 20. The article is a frustrating look at how many farmers vilify the native fish populations for not ‘sharing’ water. This is despite the fact that last fall so much water was ‘shared’, or rather taken, from endangered winter-run Chinook that “thousands of salmon were unable to spawn in the low and lethally warm water exiting Shasta Dam.”
The ChicoER succinctly sums up the situation in the Editorial: Little fish’s disappearance is a big problem, published on April 22, 2015. The article describes how those who see the Smelt as an obstacle for diverting more water from the Delta to the San Joaquin Valley are applauding the disappearance of the endangered fish. What these farmers and politicians choose to ignore is that the Smelt are only the beginning of problems for the Delta ecosystem: “If the Delta Smelt go, other species will be next.”