More than three hundred farmworkers and a bunch of Central Valley politicians rallied on the steps of the state Capitol Wednesday chanting, “Aqua es vida.” I couldn’t agree more!! Why do you think the Chinook salmon population has collapsed? Not enough H2O. That’s what the NRDC, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and other groups successfully claimed in their Endangered Species Act lawsuit about the impacts of taking water out of the California Delta on the endangered Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.
Federal judge Oliver Wanger on Friday tossed out a controversial water plan that would have allowed more pumping of water out of the delta to supply more water to thirsty agricultural interests.
Judge Wanger’s decision said, “Central Valley’s winter- and spring-run salmon, as well as the remnants of its once-thriving steelhead population, are being threatened by the dams and aqueducts that store and move water around California.” Obviously, the decision has enormous ramifications for protecting the Sacramento and American rivers and on any water transfer and delta replumbing projects.
Did the farmers chant “water is life” to save the salmon and the endangered delta smelt? Hardly. Did the Guv support the rally and rail on the Legislature to fight for the collapsing Delta-Bay ecosystem? Nope. It was yet another power play designed to move Schwarzenegger’s $9 billion-plus plan to build more dams, canals and aqueducts. Did Attorney General (and potential gubernatorial candidate) Jerry Brown forget to send the judge’s decision to the horseshoe?
Until California has a comprehensive water policy that addresses water conservation, recycling, stormwater recharge, contaminated aquifer cleanup, arcane water rights problems, and statewide water metering, don’t expect the environmental community to support efforts to replumb the Delta and build more dams.