Young Salmon are Dodging Deadly Delta Pumps

This is the critical time of year for the future of salmon populations

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This time of year is when young salmon in California hitch a ride on the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers out to the ocean—if they escape the massive pumps in the Delta. These pumps redirect the water and send it south to huge agricultural operations in the San Joaquin Valley – in the process the sucking in and killing salmon.

Earthjustice attorneys successfully challenged this practice and water managers were forced to limit water deliveries in order to reduce the destruction of salmon runs. The junior water rights holders in the valley filed lawsuits seeking to block the salmon protections.

On March 31, a federal judge rejected an attempt by water rights holders to block the salmon protections. Next, he will issue another set of similar rulings that among other things will signal to all parties who’s likely to win this water tug of war in the long run. Meanwhile a panel of independent scientists from the National Academy of Sciences recently confirmed the basic science showing that river diversion and water mismanagement are the important factors killing California’s salmon.

John was Earthjustice’s Media Director and chief press wrangler from 2001 until 2013. He came to Earthjustice in 2001 to defend freshwaters and public land—and salmon.