CA judge rules water sales can continue, despite possible fish kills


By Wayne Lusvardi | Cal Watchdog

On June 13, a coalition of sports fishermen and Northern California groundwater users sued to stop water sales to the parched Central Valley. They contended conveying water through the Delta would kill Delta Smelt fish.

But that didn’t convince a federal judge after two highly qualified biologists said the Delta Smelt aren’t even in the Delta in the summer months. On July 11, Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill deferred to the biology experts of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that the smelt are not in the Delta in the summer and thus would not be affected by sales of water that would be conveyed through the Delta.

Moreover, the seasonally shifting mixing zone where fresh and brackish water meet in the Delta in which the smelt thrive would not be in the center of the Delta, as the plaintiffs’ experts contended. During the winter, the smelt migrate upstream seeking the “first flush” of cold snowpack water.

What brought the lawsuit is the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s planned transfer of 175,226 acre-feet of water from the Shasta Reservoir to the San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority in the epicenter of the current historic water shortage.

at Cal Watchdog.