Thursday, January 10, 2008

Delta Woes

If the construction of the peripheral canal had occurred when planned years ago, we would, in all likelihood, not be having this problem now, and one hopes it soon gets built to help alleviate the species problems associated with the Delta pumping water in lieu of the canal diverting it.

Fish: Delta drop sparks fears of ecological shift
By Matt Weiser -
Published 12:14 am PST Thursday, January 10, 2008

THE ISSUE The simultaneous drop in several Delta species suggests deeper ecological problems are at work, such as poor water quality or a rupture in the food chain. Ultimately, experts say, humans could be at risk.

Five Delta fish species continue marching toward extinction, according to new data released Wednesday, a result that some observers warn may signify a major ecological shift in the West Coast's largest estuary.

The data come from an annual fall survey for fish that live in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the 740,000- acre estuary that also is the primary diversion point for drinking water enjoyed by 25 million Californians.

For four months each fall since 1967, California Fish and Game officials have used trawl nets in an effort to estimate the Delta's fish population. The product of that survey for 2007, released Wednesday, shows record-low numbers for three species: longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail and American shad. Two others, Delta smelt and striped bass, posted near-record lows.

The shad and bass are not native, but are important to the economy as sportfish.

The Delta smelt is listed as threatened under state and federal endangered species laws. Environmental groups last year submitted formal petitions to list the longfin smelt.