Calls to California Legislature to save Delta salmon

Posted on | July 5, 2009 | 1 Comment

Delta salmon. Photo: California Department of Water Resources

Delta salmon. Photo: California Department of Water Resources

FOLLOWING Saturday’s editorial pointing to a tide of water bills about to surface in Sacramento, today the San Francisco Chronicle carries a guide to those bills along with calls to protect the Bay-Delta’s historic salmon fisheries.

Samples, links below along with a guide to the bills.

From “As the Delta goes, so go our salmon:”

“The estuary is dying. California has long viewed the delta as a massive reservoir it could endlessly plumb for agriculture and development. Water “wasting” to the sea is seen as a massive leak. In reality, the delta is an ecosystem – it is our Everglades, our Chesapeake Bay. An estuary’s lifeblood is its freshwater inflow mixing with saline tidal flows to create a rich, brackish water that nourishes salmon, crabs, sole, oysters and shrimp. As the estuary dies, so do California salmon.”

From “Limit agribusiness for salmon’s sake:”

In coming weeks, the California Legislature will address legislation on one of the state’s most important issues, the management of our water. We need to ask our legislators some questions before they make the difficult decisions that will determine the future of the delta ecosystem, our water and our fisheries:

Do we really believe that more dams, reservoirs and a $25 billion peripheral canal (a pipe three football fields wide), to pump water around the delta, will save the delta?

Why do we as taxpayers subsidize water for agribusiness to grow water-intensive cotton and alfalfa in the desert?

How did it come to be that 10 percent of California’s farmers use 70 percent of California’s water?

Maybe we need to consider conservation incentives rather than water subsidies. Instead of more reservoirs, we should talk about recharging the ground water aquifers that already exist, recycling, desalination and retiring drainage-impaired agricultural land in the San Joaquin Valley.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee will hold a hearing on proposed delta solutions legislation in Room 4202 of the state Capitol in Sacramento. Possibly this will be the one and only hearing for the public to comment on policies that could permanently shape the delta’s future and water use in California.

From “Water use must change whether fish live or die:”

“…the health and viability of local salmon has everything to do with the health and viability of the aquatic ecosystem that surrounds us. As biologists will attest, if you want to measure the health of aquatic ecosystems, you need to measure fish.

As salmon begin to go extinct, it sets off a chain reaction in the natural community and a chain reaction for people impacted by loss of revenue from salmon and sport fishing, farming and tourism in the bay delta. It also has major implications for the costs and quality of California’s water supply.

A run-down of water bills now in the works in the California legislature:


Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto: The bill establishes the Delta Ecosystem and Water Council to advance two equal goals: restoring the delta ecosystem and creating a more reliable water supply in California. The bill is scheduled for a hearing by a joint session of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife and Senate Natural Resources and Water committees on Tuesday.


Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael: This bill requires development of a new plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that implements the Delta Vision Strategic Plan issued by the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force. The plan calls for improving the existing water channel through the delta to move the water south and creating a second channel to carry the water around the delta to the pumps that export the water south. The document refers to the channel as a conveyance facility. In years past, this idea was referred to as the peripheral canal.


Assemblymen Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael: Requires a 20 percent reduction per capita in urban water use by 2020. This bill is scheduled to be heard Monday in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

SB457 and SB 458

Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis: This bill requires the Delta Protection Commission to review all general plans of cities and counties within the delta protection area. This bill authorizes the commission to cover the cost of the review by imposing a per acre-foot fee on any water diversion within the delta watershed, and a fee on any water conveyed through or around the delta.


One Response to “Calls to California Legislature to save Delta salmon”

  1. Linda Jenkins
    July 10th, 2009 @ 11:07 am

    When will residents of this state get wise that we now do not have enough water for nature’s requirements, let alone the millions of people living here.

    I would like to see legislation (1)requiring farmers to grow crops requiring less water usage, and (2) restore not only the Sacramento Delta and Sacramento river, but also other smaller rivers and creeks that drain into the Pacific Ocean. They need to be restored and cared for so these ecological habitats can heal and improve the environment for everyone and everything.

    Water conservation is a must for EVERYONE. It should be taught in schools, shown on t.v. and aired on radios. The water districts should already be mandating how much water each house, apt., condo, business uses throughout the state. The word needs to be hammered home that water is not to be taken for granted.

    So. California (as well as other parts of this state) is a desert and people have attempted to make it into an oasis. The water rationing of the 70’s should never have been reversed.

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