The Delta smelt is a rarely-encountered critter, and though it currently resides on the Endangered Species list, who the heck is gonna care if it disappears for good?
Well, you should! Everyone who enjoys catching salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, stripers, bass and a whole host of other species should.
You see, the little ol’ Delta smelt is very much the canary in the coal mine of the Delta. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife service says that three of the primary threats to the Delta smelt include: Direct entrainments by State and Federal water export facilities;summer and fall increases in salinity; and summer and fall increases in water clarity.
In case you haven’t already guessed, all three of those are direct results of exporting too much water out of the Delta complex.
And guess what folks, those aren’t just threats to the smelt. Those same factors affect all of your beloved species too!
According to USFW, ammonia in the form of ammonium may also constitute a significant threat to the delta smelt. Most of that comes from city waste water treatment facilities like the one in Sacramento that doesn’t remove ammonia from its treated water. Then, you have other urban and ag pollution sources, entrainment into power plants, etc.
Again, all of which also have contributed to the decline in all of our “sport species.”
So as the Delta smelt goes, so to do salmon, stripers, sturgeon, steelhead and on and on…
Because Delta smelt are a listed species, they get quite a bit of attention and ink, but if the health of the system isn’t restored, we’ll soon see dramatic fishing closures for other species as well.
Speaking of that, there’s been quite a bit of news lately regarding Gov. Brown’s massive Delta Tunnels project (aka the “California Water Fix”).
Last Monday, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California signed a contract to purchase several Delta islands for $175 million. Those islands “just happen to be” in the path of the proposed tunnels, so LA is definitely trying to get some leverage in Nor Cal, which is very scary!
There’s also been some seedy behind the scenes doings happening too.
Just last week, the US Department of the Interior announced that it was going to investigate $60 million worth of spending by California. The money was allocated for fish and wildlife work but instead allegedly got used to prepare for the tunnels project.
Talk about a racket!
Also, Westlands Water District, the Darth Vader of California water politics, and a big supporter of the Tunnels project recently got hit with a $125,000 fine for cooking their books.
According to the LA Times, Westlands altered its revenue ledgers to meet a threshold for a high bond rating so it would not have to raise rates for some of the wealthiest growers in the state.
The Times noted that Westland’s general manager, Thomas W. Birmingham, joked during a 2010 board meeting that the adjustments amounted to “a little Enron accounting,” a reference to the massive fraud that caused the 2001 collapse of that Houston energy and commodities company, according to the SEC.
The penalty was the largest to be levied by the SEC against a municipal bond agency. Birmingham was assessed a separate $50,000 civil penalty, and the district’s former treasurer, L. David Ciapponi, received a $20,000 fine.
The arrogance of all these corrupt politicians and power brokers is amazing!
But despite the setbacks, they are still pushing as hard as ever for the tunnels to go through.
When and if they do get built, the Delta smelt will forever be gone from this planet and “glamor” species like salmon will be right behind…