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Unseen losses

This month, the Bay Institute published a report called Collateral Damage examining effects of export pumping that are usually overlooked. The report says that estimates of fish kills based on salvage at the export pumps underestimate the problem because they don’t factor in disruptions to fish migration, reductions in the amount of non-lethal habitat available to fish, and removal of “vast amounts of biomass, including fish eggs and larvae too small to be screened at the pumps.”

The report provides a powerful image of how much is lost that can’t actually be seen:

Export pumping causes the lower San Joaquin River to flow backwards most of the year and removes the equivalent of 170 railroad boxcars of water – and the accompanying fish, other organisms, and nutrients – from the Delta ecosystem every minute.

The Bay Institute favors reducing water exporter reliance on the Delta, changing pumping regimes to provide higher flows, and creating alternative pathways for fish migration. The Bay Institute also supports new conveyance that would take water from the North Delta, but notes that “none of these proposed fixes will solve the problem if the state and federal projects continue to withdraw unsustainable amount of water from the Delta ecosystem.”

And we already know the exporters won’t pay for new conveyance if they can’t get that unsustainable amount of water that they’re used to getting.

You can find the new Bay Institute report here.

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