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Noltemeyer inaccurate

Posted: August 19, 2009 8:44 p.m.
Updated: August 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Cam Noltemeyer’s commentary, “Of fish and lawsuits” (Opinion, Aug. 13) unfortunately contained several inaccuracies regarding the role and position of the Castaic Lake Water Agency in the litigation to overturn the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) recently released biological opinion to protect migratory salmon and steelhead.

To begin with, CLWA did not file the lawsuit.

It was filed by the State Water Contractors, which is a statewide, non profit association of 27 public agencies from northern, central and southern California that purchase water from the California State Water Project.  

Collectively, its members deliver water to more than 25 million residents throughout the state and more than 750,000 acres of agricultural lands. CLWA is one of those members.  

It is appropriate that the State Water Contractors initiated the lawsuit as the restrictions contained in the biological opinion are based on faulty science, violate the National Environmental Policy Act and have substantial impacts on California’s water supplies and economy.  

The State Department of Water Resources estimates this regulatory decision will cut water supplies on average between 300,000 and 500,000 acre-feet per year. So far in 2009, 430,000 acre-feet of water, enough to serve more than 2 million people for one year, have been cut to meet the requirements on another biological opinion to protect Delta smelt, another fish species.  

As stated by Laura King Moon, assistant general manager of the State Water Contractors, “These cuts have real costs to our customers and to the state’s economy.”

CLWA and the other State Water Contractors are concerned with the serious challenges facing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and support efforts such as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), a comprehensive conservation plan for the Delta that will provide a basis for addressing many of these challenges from an ecosystem perspective.  

The path taken by NMFS focuses on cutting water supplies despite the fact that federal wildlife agencies recently identified changing ocean conditions as the primary cause for the population decline, in addition to significant ocean harvest.  

Also, the biological opinion does not address other factors such as invasive plants and animals, toxic runoff from pesticides and wastewater-treatment-plant discharges, all of which alter biologic and chemical balances in the Delta.  

The biological opinion’s failure to take these factors into account while ignoring the impact on people provides valid reason for the state’s water agencies to challenge NMFS’s unbalanced and unwise — and likely ineffective — approach to protecting fishery resources.  



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