The Golden State’s historic drought could be the final nail in the coffin of a small, threatened fish that has been at the center of California’s water conflicts. The Associated Press (AP) reports that researchers determined that the population of the Delta smelt was at zero on a key index that measures the vitality of fish species. A handful of smelt were found but the population was too low for scientists to place on the population survey.
The fish has been endangered for many years but due to California’s four-year drought the fish is nearly extinct. The drop in the fish’s population is allegedly due to pollution, loss of habitat and fresh water transmission to California communities. The Delta smelt has been the center of controversy over water rights in the state since it was listed as an endangered species in 1993 in which its endangered status was codified into California law in 2010.
To protect the Delta smelt, the state ordered reduced water amounts relayed to cities and towns to protect it and other native fish from being sucked into water pumps that service southern portions of California. Scientists and environmentalists contend that the fish needs protection since its health is vital to the local ecosphere. Farmers counter that attempts to preserve the fish have resulted in too much water not being made available to fill reservoirs for crop production. Consequently, not only have crop yields in California diminished due to the drought but it has also resulted in farmers laying off employees. An attempt to challenge the endangered status of the Delta smelt was turned away by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.
Even though the fish continues to contribute to reduced state crop yields, AP points out one thing of note is that a fish hatchery at UC Davis Fish Conservation and Culture Laboratory in Byron has been breeding large quantities of Delta smelt in order to ensure the fish’s survival. Despite their efforts, scientists still er on the side of preservation thinking that if the fish they own were to be released into the wild they may not survive due to changes in the the area’s ecology.
Since most of California is desert, droughts are a regular occurrence in The Golden State and for over thirty years, environmentalist groups have opposed upgrading California’s water delivery infrastructure that would enable the state to build up water reserves. Environmentalist support of proposals like conservation and water recycling but their ideas are a front not only for their opposition to enhanced water delivery infrastructure (in California but elsewhere too) but also demonstrates one other way they express their nihilistic, vicious hostility to human beings.