Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agree to Reduce Pumping to a Minimum To Protect Delta Smelt

May 31, 2007


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) today filed with U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California a plan for the immediate protection of the threatened Delta smelt at the two major export pumps in the South Delta.

Under the plan, the two projects will re-operate to ensure no net effect on Old and Middle rivers from the two diversions until water temperatures in the South Delta reach 25 degrees centigrade, the lethal temperature for juvenile Delta smelt.

Reclamation said that pumping at the federal CW "Bill" Jones Pumping Plant will be reduced to the minimum required for health and safety. In addition to cutting back to 850 cubic feet per second (cfs), Reclamation will be evaluating other technical and water acquisition measures which could be taken to provide the needed water and, at the same time, reduce pumping further. The 850 cfs will be pumped from its smallest pump of the six pumps at the Jones Plant. Normally at this time of year, pumping is up to 3,500 cfs.

Simultaneously, Reclamation will provide an equivalent 850 cfs of flow into the south Delta.

The other major export system, the California State Water Project, announced today that it will shut down completely its pumps at Clifton Court Forebay for seven to 10 days.

However, other diverters in the South Delta can pump up to 3,000 cfs, which could affect the flows in Old and Middle rivers.

"The Bureau of Reclamation and the State Department of Water Resources are voluntarily reducing their pumping to help the Delta smelt," according to Steve Thompson, Manager, California-Nevada Operations for the Service. "We all recognize that the Delta smelt is in serious trouble; those agencies are cooperating to provide short term help to the species as we put longer term survival solutions in place.

"The Delta faces a survival crisis. It will take the cooperation of all interests on the broad range of problems " food, exotic species, climate change, pesticides and pumping -- to save this species and the Delta," Thompson added.

The federal agencies also advised the court in its plan that, working with National Marine Fisheries Service and the California Department of Fish and Game, they will determine the water needs for the Delta smelt and other listed species to ensure that there will be sufficient water for equally critical summer and fall seasons.

The spring tracking surveys are finding record low numbers of juvenile Delta smelt this spring, so it is difficult to draw inferences about their distribution. Until recently, no young smelt were taken at the pumps. However, in the last 10 days some Delta smelt have been collected at the pumps.

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.