June 2, 2011

Fewer salvaged smelt, more water

By Fewer salvaged smelt, more water

Author:  Damien M. Schiff

Tom Philp of the Metropolitan Water District (which provides water to millions of customers in Southern California) has this interesting piece in the San Francisco Chronicle blog noting that this past season, not a single Delta smelt was taken at the state water pumping facility in the south Delta.  The hypothesis as to why smelt take numbers are down is because pump operators are using water turbidity as a proxy for smelt presence (because smelt like unclear waters to avoid predation).  Thus, if pump operators keep the water around the pumps exceptionally clear, the pumps will not become an attractive habitat for the smelt.  One wonders whether the Fish and Wildlife Service will incorporate this finding into the new biological opinion.

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