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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Water Worries for Urban Growth Backers: More bad news for CA native fish
January 31, 2008

Dear Friends:

Here is the latest news from The Bay Institute (TBI):
Collapsing salmon populations are adding to the already sounding alarm over critical ecological conditions in the Delta and Central Valley rivers. Just released Department of Fish & Game figures found that only about 90,000 fall run Chinook salmon returned to Central Valley rivers to spawn, down from more than 800,000 just a few years ago. The abrupt decline comes concurrently with the collapse of other species dependent on the Delta ecosystem, including delta smelt, longfin smelt, and threadfin shad. While ocean conditions may be one factor in the salmon decline, scientists are also pointing to overexploitation of our rivers and Delta--the "highway" for migrating salmon. "The fish are facing a double whammy," says Bay Institute Senior Scientist Tina Swanson. "But apart from rolling back global warming, we can't really control ocean conditions. What we can do is drastically improve conditions within the watershed so that more adults can spawn successfully and more juveniles survive the journey to the ocean.
"The Bay Institute has been working diligently to do just that: We sued the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation over their inadequate "biological opinion" for 5 species of salmon affected by water project operations. And we will continue working to promote sustainable management of our precious water resources and to fight state and federal efforts to roll back protections.

Read more:

San Francisco Chronicle: Salmon arriving in record low numbers

Sacramento Bee: Salmon run verges on a collapse


Scientists: Lake Mead May Be Dry by 2021


PHOENIX (AP) — Changes in climate and strong demand for Colorado River water could drain Lake Mead by 2021, triggering severe shortages across the region, scientists warn.
Researchers at San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography said Tuesday the West's largest storage reservoir faces increasing threats from human-induced climate change, growing populations and natural forces like drought and evaporation.

There is a 50 percent chance Lake Mead will run dry by 2021 and a 10 percent chance it will run out of usable water by 2014, if the region's drought deepens and water use climbs, the researchers said.

"We were stunned at the magnitude of the problem and how fast it was coming at us," said marine physicist Tim Barnett. "Make no mistake, this water problem is not a scientific abstraction but rather one that will impact each and every one of us that live in the Southwest."

Currently, Lake Mead — located in Nevada and Arizona — is half-full, as is Lake Powell. Both lakes help manage water resources for more than 25 million people in seven states.
Researchers said that if Lake Mead water levels drop below 1,000 feet, Nevada would lose access to all its river allocation, Arizona would lose much of the water that flows through the Central Arizona Project Canal, and power production would cease before the lake level reached bottom.

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