Salmon get dealt a tough card by Bureau of Reclamation, according to this story from the Sacramento Bee ..
Delta water gates won't be closed for salmon
By Matt Weiser/Sacramento Bee
An important set of water diversion gates in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will not be closed this month to assist migrating salmon, as they were last year.
The Delta Cross Channel Gates near Walnut Grove are operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Built in 1953, the gates divert fresh water from the Sacramento River to the interior of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and are typically kept open in fall to reduce the salinity of water exported from the Delta for urban and agricultural use.
But in recent years, concern has emerged that salmon migrating upstream to spawn in the Mokelumne River get confused when water flows are mixed by the open gates, and get lost in their spawning journey. So last year, the gates were closed for 10 days in October, which may have contributed to a strong rebound in salmon production at the Mokelumne River Hatchery, operated by the California Department of Fish and Game.
This year the gates will not be closed, said Sue Fry, area manager of Reclamation's Bay-Delta Office. Doing so would cause salinity intruding from San Francisco Bay to increase significantly in the Delta, likely violating a state water quality standard, she said. One reason is that it has been a dry water year, so there just isn't enough natural outflow to control salinity.
"We want to try to help those Mokelumen River fish not to stray," Friy said. "This is something Reclamation will look at every year to lend information to studies that are ongoing."
Reclamation announced Friday it is launching a five-year study, using tagged fish, to assess whether closing the gates actually helps salmon. Gate closure in these study years will again depend on water quality conditions.
Dick Pool, a board member of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, said missing the gate closure this year is troubling because Mokelumne River is an important producer of salmon caught as adults in the ocean by commercial fishermen.
"We are concerned and are going to try to pull out all the stops to keep this from happening next year," Pool said.
For more information on the study, visit: http://ht.ly/eFZUi