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Bay Delta

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

“Fish vs farms”: It’s the perennial tug-of-war for water between environmentalists, who want to see stable ecosystems in the Sacramento-San-Joaquin River Delta, and farmers, who feel slighted that they need to fight with endangered fish in order to irrigate their fields.

Flickr user WordIslandInfo.com, license CC BY 2.0

The partial government shutdown caused all sorts of headaches for Congress, and it may have tipped the scales when it comes to support for one law that deals with water diversions to the San Joaquin Valley from the San Francisco Bay Delta.

The law is known as Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation, or the WIIN Act. It remains in place until 2021, but many lawmakers had been trying to renew it before the new Congress was sworn in earlier this month.

State Department of Water Resources

For years, farmers in the southern San Joaquin Valley have been struggling with reduced water deliveries. The problem – as they see it – has been reduced pumping out of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta, restrictions in place to help the fragile ecosystem there recover. But species in the Delta and the rivers that feed it are still declining.