That’s largely because Delta smelt are now so rare that they are hard to find in the first place. The project’s completion comes after the third consecutive year in which the California Department of Fish and Wildlife failed to find a single Delta Smelt in the area. The delta smelt, an unassuming, finger-size fish with little utility beyond its role as an environmental sentry, has been at the center of California’s water wars for nearly three decades. February 13, 2018 Journal Reviews. The Delta Smelt Hypomesus transpacificus is a small translucent fish that lives in the heart of California’s water distribution system. Scientists and environmentalists say diverting river water would harm the ecosystem of the San Francisco Bay and species such as the three-inch-long Delta smelt. In the ’70s, delta smelt were abundant. Efforts to save the delta smelt and other threatened native species have led to limits on water pumped from the delta to the vast farm lands and cities hundreds of miles to the south. The farmers have come together and sued the state of California for their stringent water restrictions to preserve the delta smelt, their lawsuit went to the supreme court which upheld the state because of the endangered species act protection of the delta smelt. The plunge of the Delta smelt population towards extinction has been made possible by the capture of the regulators by the regulated, including Big Ag and other corporate interests, in California. The weaponization of Delta Smelt in the California water wars. The delta smelt is listed under the Endangered Species Act. Living only in California, the delta smelt is a tiny, silvery blue fish that has been at the heart of a longtime war over the state's water. The delta is the most contentious body of water in California, pulled in all directions by powerful interests. Though its historic range encompassed, at different times, the entire Delta and parts of Suisun Bay, our diversion of that freshwater for our own uses has changed the smelt's habitat. Delta Smelt and Water Politics in California. The Delta smelt is an endangered 3-inch fish that is found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The weaponization of Delta Smelt in the California water wars. A California appeals court sided with environmentalists over growers on Thursday and upheld federal guidelines that limit water diversions to protect Delta smelt, in … The smelt inhabits the boundary between fresh and salt water in the Delta, where ocean tides that bring saltwater into the estuary from the Pacific Ocean meet freshwater flows from California's rivers. For Trump and Hannity, the delta smelt controversy is not simply about water in California. The delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) is an endangered slender-bodied smelt, about 5 to 7 cm (2.0 to 2.8 in) long, in the family Osmeridae. Department of Water Resources Deputy Director Ted Craddock said in a Wednesday press conference that the project is beneficial to the overall health of the Delta and its ecosystem. Other than basic taxonomy and the fact that it was endemic to the delta, little was known about the fish, and there was no indication that it would later swim into the center of California’s water politics. That lower freshwater flow means that the tides carrying salt water into the Delta meet less resistance on their way inland, which means saltwater intrudes deeper into the Delta, driving salinities way past the level Delta smelt can live with, and making that optimal salinity "mixing zone" a lot smaller. California's Delta smelt are dying: How this affects the state's water . It is an endemic species that is on verge of extinction, largely because it is in direct competition with people for water. Yet a survey of young adult smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta last fall yielded just eight fish, the lowest level since 1967. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors voted to approve $59 million for funding Delta Tunnel plans on December 7, despite over three hours of … (Top right) Barker Slough in the north delta, spawning and early rearing habitat for Delta Smelt; photo credit: P. Moyle. The Delta Smelt Hypomesus transpacificus is a small translucent fish that lives in the heart of California's water distribution system. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak. Protections have sometimes placed limits on water extracted from its habitat, although far less than is often claimed. The new proposal, crafted by the California Natural Resources Agency as part of its “Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy,” suggests: “In 2016, Reclamation will provide 85 thousand acre-feet (TAF) to 200TAF additional outflow above what is required under D-1641 for release in the summer. The delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) is an endangered slender-bodied smelt, about 5 to 7 cm (2.0 to 2.8 in) long, in the family Osmeridae. It’s about the politics of “us” and “them.” 8/25. The administration insisted its plan, while designed to deliver more water to the Valley, will protect Delta smelt, Chinook salmon and other fish that are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The State Water Project, which supplies Southern California with delta water, has historically adhered to federal Endangered Species Act protections for delta smelt… The smelt’s tendency to swim near the State Water Project and Central Valley Project export pumps in the South Delta has complicated water deliveries to farmers and cities. The Delta smelt collapse is part of an overall ecosystem decline, including dramatic reductions in winter, spring and fall-run Chinook salmon and steelhead populations, driven by water … He was there to support a bill — introduced by California's House Republicans — that aims to get farmers more water by rolling back environmental laws like the ones that protect the smelt. The massive water exports have upended the delta’s natural hydrologic rhythms and helped push native fish, such as the delta smelt and winter-run Chinook salmon, to the brink of extinction. 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