Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

San Francisco paper reports on *water war*

A perspective piece in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle wrapped up decades of California water wrangling and pondered a possible end to the state's "water war."

The article centered on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which 150 years ago was a marshy estuary with a constant ebb and flow of saltwater from the San Francisco Bay and fresh water from rivers draining the mountains, said the article, written by freelancer Matt Jenkins.

Today, the article said, after 150 years of "spirited remodeling," the area has been transformed into a tangle of waterways with farms and towns on levee-protected islands. Fresh water from the delta is channeled to agricultural fields for irrigation and to urban water users.

Last fall, the Legislature proclaimed two "coequal goals" for the delta: providing a more reliable water supply for the state and protecting, restoring and enhancing the delta ecosystem.

"We've got to get this right," Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael was quoted in the story. "We're not going to have too many more chances to save the estuary."

Jenkins spoke to UC Davis fisheries biologist Bill Bennett, who serves as an adviser to the state Water Resources Control Board on flow criteria. Working with a team of UC Davis researchers, Bennett helped create a conceptual framework for establishing ecologically beneficial flows.

While the Department of Water Resources and water users report uncertainty about the ecological effects of pumping water for ag and human use, Bennett says several things are certain:

"What we're certain about is that delta smelt are at the lowest levels ever. And we're certain that the flows in the estuary don't go the way flows in an estuary should go."

The members of the state board will vote to adopt flow criteria on Aug. 3.

The fate of delta smelt is one issue in California's water wars.
The fate of delta smelt is one issue in California's water wars.

Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 7:59 AM

No Comments Posted.

Leave a Reply

You are currently not signed in. If you have an account, then sign in now! Anonymously contributed messages may be delayed.

Security Code:

Read more

Webmaster Email: