Federal court blocks California water diversion plan

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Interior’s plan to divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and its fisheries was temporarily blocked by a federal court, May 11. Pres. Donald J. Trump and his administration had announced a plan, in February, to divert water away from the Bay-Delta region to growing agriculture areas in southern portions of California. The plan aimed to increase water capacity for the state’s agriculture industry. A lawsuit against the plan was filed almost immediately.

Judges from the federal court’s Eastern District of California sided with the state, ruling the Trump administration plan would have threatened endangered species protections of fish species in the region.

“The Department of the Interior’s plan would allow for expanded water diversions from the Delta by more than half a million-acre feet despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the plan poses a clear and significant threat to federally protected species in California – many of which have already seen declining populations for many years,” a statement released by the American Sportfishing Association said. “These protections for threatened and endangered fisheries also benefit the entire Delta ecosystem, including many important recreational fisheries.”

Winter-run Chinook salmon and Delta smelt were listed among the native fish populations potentially threatened by the water diversion plan.

Parties involved with the federal lawsuit were the Golden State Salmon Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Bay Institute, Institute for Fisheries Research, Defenders of Wildlife and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association.

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