Received this as an email in regard to coverage of Tom Nassif’s testimony about the regulatory burden on farmers. The email is a clarification of a comment by Nassif on irrigation restrictions related to the Delta smelt.


In your story about Delta farmers and regulations, I wanted to clarify the comment by Tom Nassif that " Without restrictions from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect Delta smelt, water allocations in 2009 for California’s Central Valley growers would have been three times higher."

These are the facts, as provided by CA's Dept. of Water Resources: in 2009, the first year our biological opinion was in effect -- the third consecutive drought year, by the way -- out of the approximate 7 million acre feet (AF) of water annually pumped out of the Delta by the state and federal pumping projects about 500,000 AF was held back that year due to the smelt BO.

Meanwhile, DWR reported that 1.6 million AF was held back in 2009 because of the drought (the water just wasn't there). So three-quarters of the 2.2 million AF total held back was due to the drought, not environmental regulations. We're still waiting for the 2010 impacts, when there was also a BO in effect for salmon (NOAA), a BO that seems to get forgotten in everyone's haste to blame the delta smelt. But there was also a lot more water in 2010 due to rainfall. Thanks

Steve Martarano, Public Affairs Specialist
Bay-Delta Office, Fish and Wildlife Service
Sacramento, CA 95814