[acn-l] Critics say CA state water distribution plan would hurt dwindling salmon

FISH1IFR at aol.com
Sat, 14 Nov 1998 19:56:27 EST

Posted at 4:12 p.m. PST Wednesday, November 11, 1998



Critics say state water distribution plan would hurt dwindling salmon

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A plan to distribute water across the state and restore the ecological health of San Francisco Bay will accelerate the destruction of California's dwindling salmon runs, commercial fishermen and environmentalists warn. The CalFed Bay-Delta program was launched in May 1995 to develop a plan that would restore the ecological health of the bay and delta and improve the state's overall water management.

CalFed is scheduled to release a draft of their plan in mid-December. Critics, who charge that dams kill fish and threaten the fishing industry, say the plan will recommend more dams, offstream storage and possibly a peripheral canal to ship water around the delta to Southern California.

Save San Francisco Bay consultant Barry Nelson said he's examined a draft of the plan, and, ``basically it's a suggestion that CalFed should commit to a new wave of dam construction.''

``CalFed must emphasize conservation and habitat restoration, not new dams,'' said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.

The groups accuse CalFed of ignoring alternative ways to boost water supplies in Central California, such as demanding more efficient water use from agricultural buyers, who use 80 percent of the state's developed water.

A CalFed draft report last March found that recycling and conservation in urban areas reduces the state's water use by 4 million acre feet a year -- nearly enough to fill Shasta Lake, the biggest reservoir in California. But the CalFed recommendations for agricultural users would take a fraction -- less than 1 percent -- of the 33 million acre feet of water that California farmers use every year.

Fishermen and environmentalists contend that irrigation efficiency and voluntary fallowing of land and water transfers by agriculture could save millions of acre feet of water.

The Wilson administration has expressed interest in several major dam projects the fishing-environmentalist coalition view with skepticism.

They are:

--enlarging Shasta Dam and the Los Vaqueros reservoir in Contra Costa County;

--building reservoirs on Stone Corral and Funks Creeks in Colusa and Glenn counties;

--building Los Banos Grandes, an off-stream storage reservoir in Merced County.