Everyone in California is trying to figure out how to solve the state’s water issues.
Perhaps the key is a tiny fish, the Delta smelt, which has been in the news lately.
Here’s Fox News weighing in:
Endangered since 1993, the plankton-eating silver minnow is blamed by farmers, lawmakers and water officials up and down the Golden State for locking down billions of gallons of water that otherwise would go to them. That’s because, since the smelt’s listing as a protected species, biologists have tried saving the fish, in part, by withholding fresh river runoff annually to maintain smelt-friendly temperature and salinity levels.
Farmers and downstate cities — already suffering the effects of the drought — claim that water was allocated to them, and withholding it for a fish with no commercial purpose is bad policy.
“California fruits and vegetables are sent all over the world,” said Republican state Assemblyman Travis Allen. “When we are diverting our water to save a few pinky-size fish and leaving hundreds of thousands of acres fallow – there is something wrong with our priorities.”
But major farm organizations are exploring a new option in the increasingly contentious fight, as the fish population continues to plummet despite conservation efforts: Declare the species extinct, and delist it as an endangered species, thus allowing regulators to turn on the pumps that appear lethal to the tiny minnows.
The numbers suggest the delta smelt, indeed, could be wiped out soon anyway.
In a March 2012 trawl survey, wildlife officials found 296 fish. An identical sampling a month later found 143. But in April 2015, officials found a single fish, not enough to propagate the species.