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Delta Smelt Deaths Mean Less Water for Central and Southern California

Feb 12, 2013

An adult delta smelt
Credit California Department of Water Resources

  Too many fish deaths in the Sacramento- San Joaquin Delta are forcing the California Department of Water Resources to reduce the amount of water pumped to the Central Valley and southern California.

The number of protected Delta Smelt killed this year is nearing the annual limit set by the Endangered Species Act. Pumping stations have killed 232 smelt. Rules allow only 305 over the entire year.

Mark Corwin with the Department says the deaths illustrate the need for a new system, one that would include $14 billion twin tunnels.

“We have no reason to expect that next year will be any different or the year after that will be any different and this conflict will continue to play out year after year, until we make fundamental changes in the way we manage the Delta.”

So far the department has had to withhold 700,000 acre feet of water, enough to supply more than a million households for a year.

The Department says less water will be available for storage and that may affect some farmers and other water users this coming summer.