The State of California has released a new plan to save the endangered Delta Smelt, including a proposal to flush up to 250,000 acre-feet of water from reservoirs into the Pacific Ocean in the summertime, despite ongoing drought.
For several years, farmers have watched as fresh water has been diverted from agriculture to save the small bait fish, which is easily bred in laboratories, but has disappeared from estuaries, partly due to predators and party due to saltier conditions.
The new proposal, crafted by the California Natural Resources Agency as part of its “Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy,” suggests: “In 2016, Reclamation will provide 85 thousand acre-feet (TAF) to 200TAF additional outflow above what is required under D-1641 for release in the summer. In the spring and summer of 2017 and 2018, DWR and/or Reclamation will provide up to an additional 250TAF of outflow above D-1641 requirements.”
As the Sacramento Bee notes, “That’s no small amount: 200,000 acre-feet is equal to a quarter of Folsom Lake’s capacity, though not all the amount released would come from Folsom.” The Bee adds that even the federal government is skeptical of the proposed water releases.
Capitol Public Radio reports: “The plan is designed to prevent predators from eating the fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Most of those predators are not native.”
However, the water releases are likely to attract the most attention and criticism.
Other proposed steps include removing aquatic weeds where predators live, and adding sand “and other likely-favored spawning substrates” to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
California has suffered a drought over the past five years, and water restrictions remain in place in many areas despite ample rains in the northern part of the state this past winter due to El Niño.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.