Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Delta Fish Population Crashes

I have not posted for a few days. The main reason is that I was spending a lot of time on the subject above — why are the populations of Delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and juvenile striped bass are rapidly declining. This was the subject of a Congressional Hearing in Stockton on Monday, Feb. 27. The referenced Warren Lutz story from the Stockton Record is excellent.

The key issue here is whether or not there is the political will to implement any solution. With three different constituencies seeking to have a say in managing the water the prospect for a solution is bleak. California Agribusiness wants the water for irrigation. Southern California urban areas, with political power equal to their population, seek to grab as much water as they can to fuel additional growth. Anglers, tourism dependent Chambers of Commerce and environmentalists are an unusual pairing of stakeholders with an interest in maintaining a proper flow of Sacramento and San Joaquin River waters through the system.

The outcome of that hearing was a demonstration that the system is just too complex to have a single cause and it will not have a single solution. The three causes suspected are:
  • an exotic species of clam that eats the food required by some fish species,
  • the fact that too much water is being pumped from the delta too quickly, taking very young fish and fish eggs with it,
  • the increasing level of pesticieds and fertilizer residues that flow into the delta waters.
All three of these would be mitigated by reducing the pumping and providing an increased flow of water through the delta.

Here is my suggestion. Green residents of the Los Angeles basin should be telling the Metropolitan Water District that it is time to stop raiding the rest of the state for water. We have seen what it has done in other areas. If you drive North on US Route 395, you pass Owens Lake. Do it in the summer and watch the dust devils blow across. At one time, steamships plied Owens Lake, carrying silver from the mines on the East Side to the railways on the West. Do we want the California Delta to become another Owens Lake? It is up to Southern California to determine that.

If the water continues to go South at an increasing rate, then there is no future, not only for the fish, but for a lot of humans as well. The time has arrived when the this Ponzi Scheme called growth funded City Services has reached the point where it has become the only competition that counts. You can not move water from the Central Valley to Southern California urban populations without taking it away from Central California Cities.

  1. Tracy, CA, on the edge of the delta, residents and farmers to be a little drier in 2006. while California State government plans to send more water South.
  2. Santa Clara Valley Water District is beginning to pay people to take out lawns and replace them with other types of landscaping.
People talk about peak oil. That crises will not be as bad as peak water.

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