From: Dan Levine, Reuters
A California appeals court sided with environmentalists over growers on Thursday and upheld federal guidelines that limit water diversions to protect Delta smelt, in a battle over how the state will cope with its worst drought in a century.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court should not have overturned recommendations that the state reduce exports of water from north to south California. The plan leaves more water in the Sacramento Delta for the finger-sized fish and have been blamed for exacerbating the effects of drought for humans.
From: Scott Smith, Associated Press
A federal appeals court on Thursday largely upheld a 2008 plan that called for restrictions on water deliveries from California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to protect a tiny, threatened fish.
In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel said that much of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2008 biological opinion about the Delta smelt was not arbitrary and capricious as a lower court judge had ruled.
From: Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
In a big win for a little fish, a federal appeals court Thursday upheld delta smelt protections that have cut deliveries of Northern California water to the Southland and the San Joaquin Valley.
A panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in a 2-1 decision that a number of environmental provisions that federal and state water contractors have disputed as ill-founded were in fact justified. In effect, the court backed pumping limits.
From: Staff, KOVR-13
With planting season a month away, rice farmers in Northern California are worried they may lose half of their water this season. The unsettled water allocations could mean a much lower rice harvest with fewer jobs available. "We don't know how much water we are going to get," said rice farmer Mike Daddow. "In this district, they've already said we may only get 40 percent of our water.
The northern valley grows 97 percent of the state's rice crop. Cutting farmers' water in half, meaning fewer seeds are planted.
From: Rick Montanez, KFSN-30
Valley farmers say hope is gone after a high court ruling continues limits on water allocations.
Farmers on the Valley's west-side, like those in the Westlands Water District, are angry over the federal appeals court decision to limit water flow to the valley in order to protect a small fish species, Smelt, in the Delta.
The war over water flow just hit a new critical point. Restrictions on pumping to valley farmers will hold firm.
Bay Delta Conservation Plan
From: Denny Walsh, Sacramento Bee
A state appellate court dropped a bomb late Thursday on the early stages of the state's plan to divert fresh Northern California water under or around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on its way to Central and Southern California.
On a 2-1 decision, a three-justice appeal panel in Sacramento ruled the California Constitution bars the state from entering private properties to do preliminary soil testing and environmental studies unless it wants to condemn affected sections of the parcels through its power of eminent domain.
From: Robert Handa, KTVU-2
Some South Bay farmers Thursday were expressing concerns about the future after being told they will lose their surface water supply in a few weeks because of the drought.
Thursday evening the Santa Clara Valley Water District held a meeting with about a hundred customers who have permits to use surface water.
From: Staff, Chico Enterprise-Record
Baby salmon might get a ride down to the ocean this spring. We're not sure who would be more confused by that - them or us.
The salmon fingerlings will be stumped because, well, that's not how it's supposed to work. The recently hatched fish imprint on the stream where they are born and get swept downriver by high spring flows, ending up down in the ocean. They return to the place where they are born three or four years later, spawn and die. If the salmon are born in the hatchery, that's where they return almost all of the time.
From: Dennis Taylor, Salinas Californian
A federal court in San Francisco on Thursday ruled in favor of ongoing environmental protections for endangered delta smelt, a far reaching ruling that the attorney who litigated the case said would have implications for any challenges to the protection of steelhead trout in the Salinas River.
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a "biological opinion" issued in 2008 to protect the delta smelt will stand without alteration, safeguarding the habitat of a species on the brink of extinction. The phrase "biological opinion" is key, because in the case of the ongoing debate over the practice of clearing the Salinas River channel of brush, sandbars and debris to prevent flooding, federal regulators have made clear that plans to continue the practice as proposed so far will run head-on into the Endangered Species Act.
From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press
Progress toward an environmental solution at the declining Salton Sea may be unbearably slow for some observers.
However, there have been some important achievements in the last year, said officials at the seventh annual Renewable Energy Summit at Quechan Casino Resort on Thursday.
For instance, the Imperial Irrigation District and Imperial County set aside years of litigation and acrimony to jointly advance a restoration plan for the Salton Sea.
Water Industry News
From: Nick Rappley, Patterson Irrigator
After 37 years at the forefront of West Side water issues, Bill Harrison stepped down as general manager of the Del Puerto and West Stanislaus Water Districts Feb. 28. In his place, Anthea Hansen will take over as general manager of the water districts.
Harrison succeeded his father Lawrence "Lodi" Harrison, who was instrumental in putting together original water usage contracts for farmers dating back to the 1940s.