California’s Primary Water Supply Slashed
throughout Northern, Central and
cutbacks in the latest federal regulatory blow to their ability to deliver
water to customers. The restrictions point sharply to the need for a more
comprehensive and sensible approach to managing the state’s water supply and
fish habitat concerns.
The cutbacks, effective immediately, were outlined today by the U.S. Fish
& Wildlife Service in a revised biological opinion for the Delta smelt, a
threatened fish species that lives in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
(Delta). The biological opinion, or permit, sets guidelines for State Water
Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) pumping operations out of the
Delta to ensure there is no long-term jeopardy to the health and habitat of
the Delta smelt. The SWP and CVP are the state’s primary water delivery
systems and collectively deliver water to 25 million Californians and 3
million acres of agricultural land.
“This is a major new reduction in water deliveries that will impact families,
businesses and farmers throughout
The timing of the new delivery cutbacks couldn’t be worse.
in a severe drought. Our state reservoirs are at their lowest levels in years.
A much reduced water supply will have severe economic impacts during the worst
economic crisis of our lifetime. To put this in perspective, a recent study,
commissioned by public water agencies, determined that the economic impact of
a 30 percent water supply cutback could range from
At the same time, there has been no conclusive scientific evidence that
water delivery cutbacks from the Delta will benefit the Delta smelt.
Scientists have identified several other possible causes of the smelt
population decline. Invasive plants and aquatic animals are upsetting chemical
and biological balances in the Delta, toxic runoff from pesticides and
wastewater treatment plant discharges are flowing through Delta waters and
nonnative predator fish introduced for sport fishing have altered the natural
“Public water agencies are committed to the rehabilitation of fish
populations in the Delta. We firmly believe that the only way to be successful
is to focus on all of the factors impacting the species — not just finger-
pointing at water exports,” added Moon.
“We’ve hit ground zero officially. This species-by-species approach to
addressing the Delta crisis is destroying our statewide water supply,” added
Moon. “Piecemeal regulations and lawsuits won’t restore the ecosystem or
ensure water supplies for our people, businesses and farms — we need a
comprehensive plan for the Delta.”
Public water agencies, environmental organizations, and state and federal
agencies are working together to develop a long-term solution. The Bay Delta
Conservation Plan (BDCP), a comprehensive conservation plan for the Delta,
will provide a basis for addressing the many threats to the Delta needed for
fishery and ecosystem recovery, while finding a way to continue to deliver
water to Californians throughout the state.
The State Water Contractors is a non-profit association of 27 public
agencies from Northern, Central and
under contract from the California State Water Project. Collectively the State
Water Contractors deliver water to more than 25 million residents throughout
the state and more than 750,000 acres of agricultural lands. For more
information on the State Water Contractors, please visit http://www.swc.org.
SOURCE State Water Contractors