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California can’t save fish by diverting more water from rivers

Category: News Release

 8 months ago by Keith Worrall  164

Modified Apr 5th, 2019 at 12:01 PM

A male Chinook salmon returns from the Pacific to spawn. Photo via California Sea Grant/Flickr

By John McManus, Special to CALmatters

Editor’s note: This is a response to the CALmatters commentary: “Finally, a new path toward managing water, rivers and the Delta,” March 19, 2019.

Recent decades have brought the slow collapse of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its salmon runs. A half dozen species face extinction. Lacking natural flushing, the Delta now suffers outbreaks of toxic algae. The salmon fishing industry suffered a shutdown in 2008 and 2009 which cost thousands of jobs.

Science points to a clear cause: inadequate flows caused by excessive diversions. In some years, 90 percent of the Tuolumne River is diverted, leaving only 10 percent for salmon and the Bay-Delta. Every Central Valley salmon river also suffers from over diversion in many years.

Recent proposals from water users fall far short of what is needed by salmon and required by the law.

Read More: California can’t save fish by diverting more water from rivers

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