California debates what to do with water from recent storms

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Weeks after powerful storms brought 32 trillion gallons of rain and snow to California, state officials and environmental groups in the drought-hit state are asking what to do with all that water. We are working on

According to state regulations, when California gets a lot of rain and snow, much of that water stays in rivers, where it has to act as a conveyor belt to carry tens of thousands of endangered baby salmon to the Pacific Ocean. there is.

But this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked state regulators to temporarily change those rules. He said the drought was so severe that it would be silly to dump all that water into the ocean, saying that while protecting endangered fish, the state was using more water than its regulations allowed. It states that there is enough water to obtain

If Newsom gets his way, the state will stop about 300,000 acre feet (370 million cubic meters) of water from flowing through the river. An acre-foot of water is usually enough for two households to use for her entire year.

Environmental groups say withdrawing so much water from rivers is a death sentence for salmon and other endangered fish species that depend on the rivers’ strong, cold currents for survival. They see Newsom as a hypocrite who calls himself an environmental advocate while ignoring the laws put in place to protect it.

“This governor is the most anti-environmental governor I have ever lived with regarding endangered species and the waters of California. Francisco Bay and its watershed.

It is one of the oldest conflicts in California, a state that has for more than a century manipulated the natural flow of rivers and streams to transform the Central Valley into one of the most fertile agricultural lands on earth. At the same time, it has provided the most agricultural land in the United States. A coastal city with a large population.

Rosenfield said these demands have threatened multiple fish species, including delta smelt, longfin smelt, Central Valley steelhead, spring chinook salmon, winter chinook salmon, and blue sturgeon.

The Newsom administration says the changing climate calls for new rules. Historically, rain falls fairly evenly throughout the winter. When it rains, there is usually more water left in the river because more rain is expected.

It’s not happening now. Scientists believe that climate change is the so-called weather whiplashNewsom is concerned about an unusually dry spring following the fierce January storms.

This makes managing the state’s sparse water supply more difficult. Especially “early this season, before we know exactly what the water year will be like,” said Carla Nemeth, director of the California Department of State. of water resources.

Jennifer Pierre, general manager of State Water Contractors, a nonprofit representing 27 public water agencies, said the proposed rule change would “make California’s water management decisions more current and most relevant.” It is an appropriate action that will help us readjust to the high science of science and current hydrology.”

“California is still recovering from years of drought and water disruption. We must be agile to ensure responsible water management for both our water supply and the environment. .”

Nemeth warned that if the state doesn’t change its rules, it means farmers and major cities like Los Angeles will have much less water available in the spring and summer.

Nemeth said the river had enough water to feed the fish, but the Newsom administration acknowledged in its proposal that it could lead to the death of the larval salmon. and “quickly respond” when necessary. For example, Nemeth said if state officials detect fish near a pump in a river, they can stop the pump and keep it out of harm’s way.

“It protects the species well,” she said.

Environmental groups say the government’s fish plans aren’t good enough. John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association, said that if state officials found fish near the pump, it meant a lot of fish had already been washed away.

Most of the state’s reservoirs, including the two largest reservoirs, Oroville and Shasta, are past average or close toBesides, the amount of snow in the mountains is almost double How was this period historically? So McManus says Newsom acted too soon to change the rules to store more water.

“The only real emergency we face is the collapse of the salmon fishery in California and the job of the household income to the salmon fishery across the Court and inland California,” he said. Told. California debates what to do with water from recent storms

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