Fishermen, Delta Leaders Protest Move to “Destroy Salmon”
Push by Westlands, Feinstein to Overpump Delta will Destroy Fisheries;
If Endangered Species are Extinct, No Need for Protections;
Governor is Violating Clean Water Act
Listen to audio:
Sacramento, CA – Delta fishermen and community leaders held a news conference this afternoon outside a State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) meeting and announced they have filed protests against the State Water Resources Control Board for its January 27, 2015 Notice of Temporary Change Petitions (TUCP) because it will weaken Delta outflow and water quality standards to the point of extinction for Delta smelt and winter-run Chinook salmon this year.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, said, “The State Water Resources Control Board is in a difficult position. The Westlands Water District and other powerful agribusiness interests are pushing to press the Water Board into giving them every last drop of water during this drought. Senator Feinstein and the usual list of Central Valley Congressional Reps are using their Federal positions to intrude on issues that are supposed to be settled at the State level – all for the benefit of these growers in three of California’s 58 drought stricken counties. Yet, the TUCP as written by the Water Board is suspending standards that were too weak to begin with to protect fisheries, putting coastal, and Bay-Delta fisheries at immediate risk.”
Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), added, “The State Water Board is again inexplicably and outrageously proposing to drastically relax minimal water quality and flow standards enacted to protect the Bay-Delta and tributary streams for the third year in a row. Populations of Delta and longfin smelt and Winter-run salmon have collapsed to less than one percent of historic numbers and are facing extinction. Yet the Water Board and the Governor expect our rivers and fisheries to bear the burden and suffer the consequences of mismanagement, even as the lawns and golf courses in Los Angles remain green and additional acres of almonds are planted in the Valley. The Delta is a national treasure belonging to all of the people in the state and nation. It must not be sacrificed to the insatiable greed of special interests.”
The Board’s action:
– Lowered Delta outflow for purpose of managing the ecosystems and salinity control – bad for fish, good for invasive species, helps storage by reducing how much water the projects spend from upstream reservoirs to keep salt out of the Delta.
RTD’s protest focuses on:
The public interest in this matter concerns the protection of fish species, salinity control in the Delta, water supplies, and ecosystem conditions that prioritize a Bay-Delta estuary that continues to be fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable in drought years as well as wet.
Droughts are recurrent and predictable weather patterns in California. Droughts are not emergencies, except when our water agencies fail to manage for their recurrence.
Current water quality objectives give a green light to the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation to gamble that each water year will be normal to wet: they prioritize upstream storage for exports to south of Delta storage, resulting in a “beggar-thy-neighbor” competition pitting against each other exports, salinity control, fish protection, and ecosystem-protective outflows. Dry-year south of Delta export demands put the Board in the difficult role of a veritable God Squad with immediate power over the Delta’s endangered fish.
This situation is preventable and state and federal agencies failed to prevent it.
Water rights attorney and CWIN Board Member Mike Jackson said, “Evidently after the Bureau of Reclamation’s killing of 95% of the endangered winter-run salmon year last year, the Federal government has decided to propose a much worse water plan for 2015. It’s a much more complicated plan, but if it is approved by the California Water Board it may send both the endangered salmon and Delta smelt to extinction. We will find out soon if the Governor’s office intervenes with the Water Board to help finish off the fish.”
“Once again, Senator Feinstein (D-Westlands) favors big agribusinesses on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley over the economic and environmental needs of the people who live in the Bay-Delta Estuary. Commercial salmon fishing is a $1.5 billion economy, Delta farming a $5.2 billion economy, and of course there are the millions of people who live in communities surrounding the estuary. With this drought, we are poised to lose Delta smelt, Winter-run salmon, and steelhead as these fisheries are collapsing.
Where is Senator Feinstein’s concern for the people of the estuary?”
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; 916/956-4592-cell; [email protected] Twitter: @shopcraft; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta