Smelt Victory Ignites Water War
A statewide water war is brewing over the threatened delta smelt, slaughtered to the point of near-extinction by massive water pumps. A federal court judge ruled Aug. 31 that water project operators must increase flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta at certain times of the year to help the smelt survive. Titans of California agribusiness and residential water consumption immediately launched scare campaigns predicting water shortages and economic catastrophe. Earthjustice, which represented plaintiff groups in the successful lawsuit, is girding for the next round as political leaders resurrect previously discredited water delivery schemes such as the Peripheral Canal and new dams. Read Executive Director Buck Parker's analysis.