Review Calls Federal Actions To Protect Delta Smelt "Justified" - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Review Says Federal Actions To Protect Delta Smelt Were "Justified"

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A review, by the National Academy of Sciences, says federal actions keeping water from Westside farmers were 'scientifically justified.'

Congress requested the review, after farmers complained about the damage the lack of water was having on their farms.

The Academy looked at steps taken to protect the Delta Smelt, after two studies ruled it was endangered.

One of those steps included reducing water deliveries to a trickle for farmers in West Fresno County.

While the review found the cuts helped fish populations, it also indicated that scientists have not done enough to monitor how gradual "increases" of deliveries affect the smelt population.

Fresno Congressman Jim Costa reacted to the findings on Friday, saying that despite the report, "the valley still needs water."

"We have made real progress lately, but we can't win this fight completely until the one-sided and flawed biological opinions being used to cut off our water are revised to reflect what is actually happening in the Delta," Costa said. "For too long, critics of our Valley have pointed fingers at our farmers, workers, and communities for the decline in Delta health.  It is time for the science community, along with the Administration, to join me and the people of our Valley in saying, ‘Enough is enough.'"

The review is now calling for the fish's life cycle to be studied further. The academy asked for more time to study the issue, and will release a second report next year.

Costa has maintained the restrictions aimed at protecting the smelt have been based on flawed science. "Flawed policies are endangering our livelihoods and local economy," Costa said. "I remain confident that we can further increase this year's supply. I also look forward to reviewing the Academy's full findings on this critical issue."

You can read the review in it's entirety at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12881.

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