The column "Peripheral canal would improve San Joaquin environment" (Feb. 1, Page B-7) by Gerald H. Meral begs a response. In-delta farming diversions and fisheries lived in harmony for a hundred years. It was only when the State Water Project began operations in the 1960s that the fisheries began to decline. The catastrophic crash of smelt and other species corresponds directly to the changes in export pumping schedules worked out by CalFed during the time the state did not have a "take" permit (which it still doesn't), allowing it to kill endangered species and the (effectively) negated federal permits were in place.
The crisis is a direct result of the Department of Fish & Game, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service failing to carry out their duties to require sufficient delta outflow, water quality and prevent the "taking" of endangered species by export projects. Those agencies now protect exports rather than fisheries. In-delta diversions are not part of the problem.
Meral asserts that it would be beneficial to have yearly seawater intrusion into the delta to adversely affect invasive species. Contrary to the Public Policy Institute of California report on which he relies, the delta is now saltier than it was before the projects -- making his suggestion unfounded. A peripheral canal would only protect those who ruined the delta.
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counsel and manager, South Delta Water Agency