CSPA Press Release: State and federal water projects violate standards: Delta fisheries plunge in summer of 2013

From the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, this press release:

“The state and federal water export projects continue to ignore regulatory requirements and Delta fisheries have again been hammered by excessive water exports.  The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) has released the 2013 Fall Mid Water Trawl (FMWT) abundance indices of Delta fish.  Fisheries continue to collapse.  DFW also released the 2013 USFWS Delta Smelt Recovery Index, which failed to meet recovery criteria and restarted the five-year recovery period.

To expedite water exports this summer, the Central Valley and State Water Projects violated water quality standards in the South Delta in June and July through 15 August and at Emmaton in April, May and June and at Jersey Point in June.  Emmaton and Jersey Point are in the Western Delta.  Additionally, the temperature compliance point on the Sacramento River was moved upstream from Red Bluff to Anderson, eliminating almost two-thirds of the river miles of spawning habitat for endangered winter-run chinook salmon.

The State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) informed the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) that it would not take any enforcement action for these violations.

The FMWT abundance indices reveal that populations of Delta fish are only a small fraction of their historical abundance before Delta water exports began.  The indices for Delta smelt (7), striped bass (23), threadfin shad (70), and American shad (135) were the second, second, third and second lowest, respectively, in the 46 years of the survey.  The index for longfin smelt (36) was comparable to the very low indices of recent years.  In other words, Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, American shad and threadfin shad populations in 2013 have plummeted 98.9, 99.6, 99.7, 89.1, 98.1 percent, respectively, from the average of the initial six years of the survey (1967-1972).  The splittail index was not released but the 2012 September-October index was zero.  The federal Central Valley Project began exporting water from the Delta in 1956.

“The historical pattern and practice of violating regulatory requirements established to protect fisheries is outrageous,” said CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings, “but the consistent failure by regulators and trustee agencies to enforce the law is simply incomprehensible and indicates a collaborative culture of noncompliance.”  “The FBI would be investigating and the Justice Department prosecuting if a financial trust had ignored regulations over three decades and reduced trust assets by 99%,” he said adding “I can understand water agencies attempting to take water that doesn’t belong to them but I can’t understand the cops giving them the green light. … “

Read the full press release here:  CSPA Press Release Delta Fisheries Decline

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