Michael Martin: Fish need much higher river flows

07/12/2014 12:00 AM

07/11/2014 3:32 PM

Valley irrigation representatives continue to repeat the canard that water from the Delta that flows from the San Joaquin River watershed to the Pacific Ocean is wasted. Of course, this water is not wasted. Much of it was – always is – needed to flush out the Delta, provide salinity protection for Delta agriculture, improve keystone species, and it connects anadromous fish to the ocean. This, in turn, generates valuable and iconic fisheries.

The State Water Resources Control Board knows it is not a waste, and continues to evaluate a proposal to increase February-through-June unimpaired flows on the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus Rivers. All resources agencies and conservation groups agree that the scientific evidence supports higher-than-current flows (60 percent) through the Delta. Can it be done? Yes, because it must be done to comply with public trust law of the state.

It’s about water in rivers and historic upstream over-diversion. SWRCB has a clear choice, and it isn’t the status quo. Fish and their habitat need more water, which means less diversion. How much less diversion is the conundrum facing SWRCB. Let’s hope their decision will reverse decades of over-diversion and restore water to fish.

Michael Martin,

Merced River Conservation Committee, Mariposa

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