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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
California Water: Is Anyone Listening?
29 March 2012 6:54 pm
Water scarcity and endangered species troubles will keep growing unless politicians make "hard decisions" about priorities for water use in the California Bay delta, according to a new report out today by the National Research Council (NRC). Blue-ribbon panels, working groups, and stakeholder meetings have tried to come together to make such choices for decades. But because there are so many entrenched competing interests among farmers, fishers, and urban populations that depend on the water, to date there has been no consensus about the best path forward.
The runoff from California's northern Sierra flows into the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries, through the delta, and eventually out San Francisco Bay. Some 25 million people throughout California depend on delta water. Pumping stations divert massive quantities to farmers in the Central Valley as well as cities in southern California. But these water removals are increasing the stress—along with dams, declining river habitat, and pollution—on regional fish populations, including several species of salmon and a fingerling called the delta smelt. These troubles will likely be exacerbated by climate change if it shifts spring runoffs earlier in the year and raises water temperatures in the summer months, the NRC panel concludes.
The panel's conclusions do little but restate a problem that has been locked in policymaking gridlock for decades. "Science is necessary to inform actions and proposals," says committee member Henry J. Vaux Jr., professor emeritus of resource economics at the University of California, Riverside. "Societal and political considerations are also integral factors in determining the most appropriate policies toward managing the water resources in the delta and balancing the needs of all water users." In other words, unless politicians negotiate a solution between all the parties, the delta's problems are only going to get worse.