In an effort to protect smelt, a fish that is nearing extinction, California’s Department of Water will stop pumping water from an inland waterway east of San Francisco. This will affect the whole state, as water supplies would be shut everywhere for at least a week.
The Delta smelt is a small and anadromous fish that is found in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a waterway in Central California. This waterway provides drinking water through the State Water Project to 25 million citizens of California. The pumping actions of the State Water Project harms the smelt’s delta habitat as the water flow is redirected which is a risky movement for the fish as it migrates past pumps.
Lester Snow the director of the state’s water department said:
Drastic times call for drastic measures. While there are clearly many factors at play in the current decline of smelt in the delta, we must act on the one that is within our control.
In order to provide water in that situation the officials will draw underground water and use reservoir water.
State water department spokeswoman Sue Sims said:
The State Water Project will be able to draw on ground water reserves and reservoirs to make up for lost water supplies after pumps in the delta are shut. The smelt populations are expected to migrate beyond the reach of the pumps in about 10 days, which would allow the state water department to resume pumping.