This just in … CA Fishing Industry and Conservation Groups: Government leaders should refuse water contractors request as a water grab that threatens California’s salmon with extinction

From the Golden Gate Salmon Association, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, SBCSFA, Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife, The Bay Institute, Earthjustice, Friends of the San Francisco Estuary, and American Rivers:

This just inA group of wealthy agribusiness interests in the San Joaquin Valley urged Secretaries Jewell and Pritzker to risk the extinction of California’s remaining critically endangered salmon runs by increasing pumping in the Delta to maximum levels over the next few weeks, during the peak of the salmon migration through the Delta.  They ask for this increase in pumping at a time in which diverting what little water is in the system will cause maximum harm to the already critically endangered winter run salmon, threatened spring run salmon and steelhead, and to the fishing community.  This request would not only violate state and federal laws designed to protect Delta water quality and salmon and other native fish that rely on the Delta for their survival, but it also asks Governor Brown and the Obama Administration to abandon their efforts to balance all of the various water needs equally and instead put the needs of a select few agribusiness interests above the needs of everyone else.

The request came from the San Joaquin River Exchange contractors, a group that has been allocated a generous 40% of their contract water supply this year, even though most other water contractors have received a 0% allocation of water this year from the Delta due to the drought, including much of urban southern California.  But the Exchange Contractors want more. Not only are these special interests seeking to elevate their needs above all others in the State, but documents prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation indicate that they are unlikely to even use the water; instead they plan to sell it to the highest bidder, reaping windfall profits at the expense of scarce public resources.

“The salmon industry is trying to dodge bullets in this drought with wild stocks getting hammered in drought-stricken rivers,” said John McManus, executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association.  “Although hatcheries are trucking fish to evade the drought, the salmon fishing industry faces future shutdown due to harm being done to federally protected wild winter and spring run salmon being sucked into the Delta pumps. The future of California’s salmon depends on these flows being allowed to function as nature provided and not sucked into giant pumps that spell death to natural resources that belong to all Californians.  Sharing water to address human health and safety needs is something all Californians can support, but this request is entirely different.”

Continue reading here:  Final Release re Exchange Contractors 3 27 14

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