February 9, 2009

California and federal officials attempt to deal with water crisis — but what about the delta smelt?

By California and federal officials attempt to deal with water crisis — but what about the delta smelt?

The big news last week was that the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation requested that the California State Water Resources Control Board allow for temporary relief from certain water standards. According to a letter from CDWR and Reclamation to SWRC, "[t]he benefits of the temporary proposed modifications . . . are that Reclamation and DWR could minimize required releases from upstream reservoirs during February 2009 to preserve cold water needed for salmon habitat as well as water supplies necessary for drought relief."

Of course, such a minimization might not be so good for the delta smelt, as the Sacramento Bee's Matt Weiser noted on Friday in an aptly titled article, "Delta drought response could pit fish against fish."  Incidentally, given the smelt's protected status under the Endangered Species Act and the corresponding export restrictions ordered by Judge Wanger, one must note that the ESA's inability to deal with interspecies conflict is one of the laws many shortcomings.

Coverage is also available at Aquafornia, here and here.

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