The tiny smelt that lives in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been declining for years. Studies clearly indicate that increasing diversions of water would harm the fish, but the administration decided to proceed anyway. Earthjustice and NRDC sued to block an offending biological opinion. The court ruled in our favor in December 2007.
A federal court ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation violated the Endangered Species Act when it approved contracts to pump water out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to agriculture projects in the Central Valley, as the Delta provides crucial habitat to the endangered delta smelt fish.
After extensive scientific review, a federal appeals court upheld a 2008 decision that enacted water restriction on transporting water from the San Joaquin Delta to agricultural farms in the Central Valley to protect the Delta Smelt, an endangered fish.
“At the core of this decision, the 9th Circuit says this [study] is fine, and that at the time that it was finalized the agency had considered the best available science of the Delta smelt.” said Earthjustice attorney, Trent Orr.
COURT DECISION: Court Upholds Protections of California Bay Delta Fish Species on the Brink of Extinction
It’s hard to view the recent actions of some big agricultural operations in California’s San Joaquin Valley as anything but hostile to the state’s wildlife. Some of the biggest growers are refusing to take an overflowing allotment of irrigation water as enough and are cluttering up the court system with lawsuits aimed at wringing every last drop of water for themselves, no matter what damage that causes native fish species.