According to the State Water Board, California is already diverting about 50% of the San Francisco – Bay Delta’s estuary’s water, far more than is sustainable for any estuary anywhere on the globe. To reach the state and federal mandate of co-equal goals – restoring the Delta’s estuary ecosystem and improving water supply reliability – it is essential that some reasonable amount of water be restored to the estuary, not diminished further.
Westlands Water District is one of the largest – and wealthiest – irrigation agencies in California, and is using its enormous political muscle to grab more water from our already over-stressed ecosystem and fisheries. Eleven species of native fish, including most of California’s iconic salmon runs, are already listed under state and federal laws. The limited protections they have received in recent years are the only reason that they have not slipped further toward extinction.
In February a radical bill passed the House of Representatives that would turn back the clock on progress to protect California’s rivers and the fisheries and wildlife they support. We must urge Sens. Boxer and Feinstein to oppose H.R. 1837. Sen. Feinstein is the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and will have significant control over any proposed rider passing through her committee. Please make sure she hears that Californians do not want salmon and other native fish to make any further sacrifices to benefit Westlands and other water agencies that have profited for decades from cheap, publicly subsidized water while the health of the San Francisco Bay Delta estuary has deteriorated.
Jim Metropulos, senior advocate, Sierra Club California