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Judge Mandates New Plan for Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta

Environmental groups say a new plan is needed to manage the Sacramento Delta. The estuary provides drinking water to two-thirds of the state's population. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

Judge Mandates New Plan for Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta

Environmental groups say a new plan is needed to manage the Sacramento Delta. The estuary provides drinking water to two-thirds of the state's population. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The Fish and Wildlife Service's scientific opinion said water management plans would not harm endangered and threatened delta smelt. But environmental groups disagreed and sued the agency. A federal judge sided with environmentalists, calling the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta management plan "bad science." The judge says federal and state water agencies have failed to protect delta smelt when pumping water from the estuary. The judge gave officials 30 days to come up with a new plan.

In the meantime, Jeff Miller, with the Center for Biological Diversity , says the delta smelt spiral toward extinction.

Miller: It doesn't bode well for the future of the Delta. And obviously it would be very tragic to lose our first native California fish species. But this also has some pretty severe implications for our water supply and just also for the state of the delta itself. You know whether it's going to be a functioning ecosystem or whether it's going to be a polluted backwater with poor water quality.

Environmental groups and the Fish and Wildlife Service meet in federal court today to decide how to protect the smelt until the new management plan is in place. Ed Joyce, KPBS News.