Some good news, amid all this discussion about the driest January and February on record.
The “salvage” (death) of Delta smelt at the export pumps appears to have mostly stopped. A couple of fish were killed on Feb. 21, but those were the first smelt taken since Feb. 6.
What’s more, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recalculated the total number of smelt that can be killed this year under the state and federal water projects’ permits. The number went up from 305 to 362.
What all this means is that the export pumps can be operated in a more flexible way. If the number of smelt killed remains at zero or near zero for the next couple of months, then we’ll stay safely below that threshold of 362 fish for the season (at the moment, 270 fish have been taken).
Staying below that threshold is important for cities and farms hoping to avoid strict cutbacks on how much water can be taken during this increasingly dry winter.