Time to make our stand, fight for our rivers

Merced Sun-Star –

This is no time to lose heart or traction.

Last week, the State Water Resources Control Board did what it has been wanting to do for a decade, officially proffering a plan to take twice as much water out of our region’s rivers and send it somewhere else. That’s not the board’s official reasoning, of course, but it’s the real goal.

The board insists this is an effort to save “an ecosystem in crisis,” the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Delta crisis is real, but not because of lack of water. More than 95 percent of its channels and sloughs are artificially “armored” with rip-rap, providing no place for salmon (or Delta smelt) to hide from non-native predators.

Board chair Felicia Marcus explains the state is also trying to save the beleagured salmon – a specie so abundant that more than 220 million of them (a billion pounds) were caught commercially in America last year.

But only a few thousand came from here, and that’s why the board wants to double – or even triple – how much water flows out of the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers into the bass-infested Delta. Thousands of hatchery salmon exit our rivers each year, but only 3 in 100 make it to the ocean. The rest are eaten by bass.

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