Storms And Muddy Delta Water Lead To Voluntary Pumping Cutback
The recent storms that have hit northern and Central California have much brought needed rain and snow to the state. But they also created a new problem for the operators of the massive pumps in the Delta that supply users in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California - too much water.
Ara Azhderian is with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority in Los Banos.
Azhderian: "With all that water comes a whole lot of mud and trash and debris as well, so a little too much of a good thing too fast."
And that's a problem in the ecologically sensitive Delta. After state and federal officials ran their pumps at or near capacity over the weekend, Azhderian says they voluntarily cut back today, over concerns that the muddy conditions may be just what the endangered Delta smelt are looking for.
Azhderian: "Part of the thinking with Delta smelt is that they like to move in muddy water because its harder for predators to see them and they feel safer. So the projects became very concerned that if they continue to pump at a very high rate, that they will inadvertently pull Delta smelt that are currently in the northern end of the Delta, into the southern end of the Delta."
And that could lead to further pumping restrictions later in the year. For now Azhderian says the pumps near Tracy are running at about half of their capacity. And while that has some farmers concerned that they'll miss out on much of the benefits of these recent storms, he says only time will tell if the strategy will be effective in long run.