A report on the Sacramento and San Joaquin delta ecosystem was released just before Christmas with a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that the abundant rain and snow fall in California over the past year has helped improve the delta’s ecosystem. To keep a small fish known as the delta smelt from extinction and the delta ecosystem from collapse, farmers near the delta were mandated to limit their water intake. This past year provided enough water for the smelt, ecosystem and the farmers. Along with better management in the delta, the ecosystem has seen improvement in many fish species, particularly the smelt and striped bass.
On the other side of the report, the fish species shad did not fair as well as other populations. Even worse is the identification of an invasive aquatic weed known as spongeplant. The plant sits and spreads rapidly on top of the water, choking the river and indigenous aquatic species. The spread of the plant could also have a negative impact on the delta’s pumping and irrigation delivery systems, which experienced problems in the past with the spread of another invasive species called the water hyacinth.
The dry winter is preventing the spongeplant from obtaining the amounts of water it needs, but so then are species like the smelt.
Barringer, Felicity. “California’s Delta Ecosystem Is Healthier, For Now”. Green: The Blog About Energy and the Environment; The New York Times. 29 December, 2011. Web.