From News Line, a daily compilation of farm water news distributed to CFWC members and others upon request. To receive News Line, click here.

Restore San Joaquin River for salmon

Coalition response…The author of this article suggests that taking San Joaquin River water away from its users can be made up through “More efficient use of water by agriculture and cities, along with wise development of other local water supplies…” This Pollyannish statement exhibits a lack of understanding of how today’s farmers, especially those along the San Joaquin River, are managing their water supply. Efficient irrigation practices in California have helped double the volume of crop production over the last 40 years while using essentially the same amount of water.

The author also incorrectly refers to a 2010 study by the State Water Resources Control Board by claiming that “60% of the natural winter and spring flows…would be needed to rebuild salmon runs and restore the bay-delta, its water quality and its wildlife.” What the author failed to mention is that the Water Board explained that the study was narrowly conducted as directed by the Legislature and did not take into account other important factors, such as the need to continue to provide water for humans. The board stressed that future policy decisions should not be based on the report.

Water users have asked for the science behind the Water Board’s current river proposal and they are still waiting for a reply. Too often decisions are made that are supposed to help species without any attempt at quantifying the actual benefits achieved, if any.

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