State Water Contractors Funding Research on Delta Smelt, Effects of Water Operations
Scientific Discoveries Will Guide California’s Future Water Management Practices
Sacramento, CA – The State Water Contractors (SWC) are substantially contributing to habitat studies in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta being coordinated this fall by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation through the Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) to better understand the endangered Delta Smelt and the effects of water delivery operations on the species.
SWC has invested $380,000 to fund a key component of a broader research effort, which is a collaboration between fish agencies, researchers and other water agency partners to improve our collective knowledge. The research is expected to better inform fish and water management actions that have the potential to improve water supply, while protecting the fish and Delta ecosystem.
“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.”
Water flowing through the Delta is vital to the state, serving 25 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland and ensuring a stable and strong economy. Science and research that respond to the management issues we face today are needed to improve conditions for Delta Smelt and ensure a flexible and reliable water supply.
“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.
The research team will use two field boats to support the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Enhanced Delta Smelt Monitoring (EDSM) program, which launched in December 2016 and has evolved from previous Delta Smelt surveys.
“This research, as well as other programs funded by the SWC and its water agency members, is charting new waters,” Pierre said. “We are confident it will spur future policymaking and improved water management practices in California.”
The State Water Contractors is a statewide, non-profit association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project. Collectively the State Water Contractors deliver water to more than 25 million residents throughout the state and more than 750,000 acres of agricultural land.