Brown Administration Uses Water Cutbacks to Promote Tunnel Plan

Lauren Sommer/KQED

An endangered Delta smelt.

Water officials are cutting back deliveries to some California farms and cities to protect the endangered Delta smelt. They say that’s one more reason to move ahead with Governor Jerry Brown's multi-billion dollar water plan.
The problem lies with the massive water pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. They suck tiny Delta smelt into them this time of year, so the pumping has to slow down.
“This is all too familiar of a story,” says Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources. He’s championing Brown's plan to build two 35-mile water tunnels that would withdraw water farther upstream, away from the smelt.
“This conflict will continue to play out year after year until we make fundamental changes in the way we manage the Delta,” Cowin says.
The Governor's plan also calls for thousands of acres of wetland restoration to bring the Delta smelt back. Brown is expected to release more details about his water plan in a few weeks.
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