Delta Water Blues

Pretty good analysis on the issues the Delta (water quality and fish abundance) is facing this year and for years to come.

Increasing surface water storage to have more fresh water to flow through might help, but so far the state legislature isn’t considering that option.

Other suggestions include growing more algae for fish food.

An excerpt.

Delta still ailing despite wetter year
August 30, 2006

Despite an unusually wet year, the Delta’s health continued its decline with the population of young striped bass hitting a new low, records show.

Taken with survey results released in early July that showed Delta smelt also at extremely low levels, the final summer figures show that the Delta is not responding to favorable weather patterns.

The Delta’s faltering health is alarming environmentalists and anglers and threatens water supplies from the Bay Area to Southern California because of conflict between the state’s dependence on Delta water and environmental needs.

With the cause of the four-year-old crisis still unclear, the state has ideas but no plan to reverse the decline.

Instead, state water officials are preparing a report for release Oct. 1 that is expected to suggest steps that could be taken.

Among the proposals that might be included are growing more algae to boost the Delta food supply, raising fish in hatcheries or temporarily increasing the flow of water through the Delta.

None of those ideas appears likely to do much, and critics are growing impatient.

“I’m extremely concerned about (the summer survey numbers), but I’m much more concerned about the lack of action on the (Schwarzenegger) administration’s part,” said Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who is chairwoman of the assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife. “The Delta is in crisis and there doesn’t seem to be any sense of crisis on their part.”

Since about 2002, the open-water fish species of the Delta have been in severe decline. The crash was discovered last year by scientists who, three years into it, had enough data to confirm the trend and rule out known explanations.

With abundant rain this spring, some water officials held out hope that summer fish surveys would bring a glimmer of good news. They did not.

“They’re very discouraging,” said Barbara McDonnell, chief of the Department of Water Resources environmental services division. “We had hoped with a good water year that we would have seen some kind of improvement.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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