State Water Contractors invest $380,000 to research effects of water operations on Delta Smelt

By on October 4, 2017
Delta smelt

The 27 public agencies throughout California that comprise the State Water Contractors (SWC) are investing $380,000 as their contribution to habitat studies in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta this fall. The habitat studies are being conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation through the Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) to better understand the Delta Smelt and the effects of water delivery operations on the endangered species.

The scientific discoveries will aid in determining the state’s future water management practices. The study is a collaboration between researchers, fish agencies and other water agency partners to improve the collective knowledge in the Delta. The research has the potential to improve water supply while protecting the fish and Delta ecosystem. It is expected to better inform fish and water management of actions they can take to improve their decision-making processes.

Delta water serves 25 million Californians throughout the state and some 750,000 agricultural land acres and the resulting food industry. It helps ensure jobs and a robust economy.

“Delta Smelt are endemic to the Delta and are considered an indicator species of its health. However, there is a lot of room for improvement in how we assess their behavior in the Delta and habitat conditions that affect them,” Jennifer Pierre, SWC general manager, said. “This research will provide much-needed information about fall habitat conditions, paving the way for effective solutions that improve the species’ health without drastically compromising water deliveries for people.”

The research team will use two field boats to support the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Enhanced Delta Smelt Monitoring (EDSM) program, which was initiated in December 2016 and has evolved from previous Delta Smelt surveys. The SWC are contributing to the studies to improve conditions for Delta Smelt and work toward ensuring a future water supply that is both flexible and reliable.

“By looking at our state’s water supply challenges through a scientific lens, we can a build a more sustainable and reliable water supply system for millions of Californians and for generations to come,” Pierre said. “This research, as well as other programs funded by the SWC and its water agency members, is charting new waters. We are confident it will spur future policymaking and improved water management practices in California.”