Written by Nicholas Vetrisek
The Trump administration is now allowing for more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley to be pumped to local farms. This will come as a great relief to California farmers despite the environmentalist fear-mongering about, of all things, the Delta Smelt fish.
This entire controversy is decades old and is a result of the Delta Smelt and Winter-Run Chinook Salmon. Both fish are basically useless to humans because they cannot be eaten by us, but they are the primary food source for the Southern Resident Killer Whale: a population of 73 Orcas. Essentially, prior to this freeing of the water, farmers were denied access to the water they desperately needed in order to protect a few thousand fish and less than 100 killer whales.
Jon Rosenfield, a scientist with San Francisco Baykeeper, an environmental group, argues that the gains made in California’s water supply are not worth the environmental impact. “They’re going to cause more harm to species that are already circling the drain just so they can get a little more water,” Rosenfield said.
Rosenfield’s comment is misleading because the increase in California’s water supply is not just “a little more,” it will be a major increase. The extra water will be between 300,000 and 500,000 acre-feet of water. If the average household uses one acre-foot of water per year, it means there is now enough water for nearly half a million more homes. The increase in water supply for California residents, particularly farmers, is going to have a much larger benefit as opposed to saving the 73 Orcas that rely on the few thousand fish in the Sacramento River.
The potential effects on the fish and whales are not enough to justify handicapping farmers and denying much-needed water to people in the state. Now, California’s farmers will have the water they need and everyone in the state will benefit as a result.