Congress makes move on state water
March 1, 2012
A partisan majority in the U.S. Congress Wednesday approved a wide-reaching California water bill providing a gift-basket of benefits to farmers and striking down existing state law. [SacramentoBee]
The bill, by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes of Visalia, stretches out and sweetens contracts for irrigation supplies, boosts deliverable quantities of water for agriculture, and bypasses a state plan still in the making.
Nunes’ bill takes direct aim at fishery protections unique to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta which have evolved over the years in an effort to maintain the delicate ecosystem in that resource-rich region. Pumping operations by export systems have dramatically impacted the life cycles of the Delta smelt, a key food substance for anadromous fish like salmon, steelhead, and striped bass which inhabit the waters. The tiny fish and their eggs are sucked up and destroyed by huge pumps which move export water into the State Water Project.
During certain periods, water is released into the bay estuary to improve the health of the fishery. Nunes sees that as a waste of water.
Nunes told his colleagues that “flushing water into the San Francisco Bay is not helping to recover species, and people are suffering needlessly.”