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A federal decision to protect the delta smelt, a tiny endangered fish, has again reduced water exports from the delta. The state Department of Water Resources announced today that the pumps’ flow will be cut to 11,000 gallons per second because increasing numbers of adult delta smelt are being found near the pumps, which sit northwest of Tracy.

When I wrote earlier this week about the flow of water being pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, pumps were pushing about 15,000 gallons per second. That’s much lower than normal for this time of year. In the past, the pumps move about 60,000 gallons per second, the state said.

Reductions were first triggered on Christmas Day and were ratcheted up two weeks ago when a dead female delta smelt was found near the pumps that send water to Southern California.

From my Monday story:

As an eight-year drought has set in on the Colorado River, the region has increasingly relied on the delta and the State Water Project, the series of dams and aqueducts that pump water south to provide its water. In some years, Southern California has gotten as much as 70 percent of its water supply from the delta, which satiates the thirst of 23 million Californians and 2 million acres of agriculture.

ROB DAVIS

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