Federal Judge Orders Reduced Pumping to Protect Delta Smelt

Statement of Kate Poole, NRDC Senior Attorney
FRESNO, Calif. (August 31, 2007) -- A federal judge ordered state and federal water project managers to reduce the amount of water pumped from the San Francisco Bay Delta to protect the threatened delta smelt from extinction.

Following is a statement by Kate Poole, NRDC Senior Attorney:

"The San Francisco Bay Delta can't perform its vital job of supplying clean water for people, if it's so sick that it can't even support the tiny delta smelt. Millions of Californians depend on the delta to supply clean drinking water, irrigate crops and support salmon and other fishing jobs.

"Today's ruling appears to improve the smelt's chances of survival. The question is whether it's enough to save the smelt from extinction. That's what's needed to protect the delta and clean drinking water, and it's what's required under the federal Endangered Species Act.

"We can manage the San Francisco Bay Delta to protect fisheries and supply clean, reliable water to downstream users. The key is to use water wisely. Through conservation, wastewater recycling and better use of groundwater, we can keep enough fresh water in the delta to ensure clean water and healthy fisheries. Water managers have been planning for this for years."