Defenders of Wildlife Update on “California Waterfix”

Taken from Defenders Fall 2017 Magazine Law of Survival

Tunnel Vision

To prevent further harm to the largest estuary on the West Coast, Defenders joined with other conservation and fishing groups in lawsuits against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service.  The suits, filed in June, challenge the biological opinions under the Endangered Species Act that pave the way for a massive project to divert water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Known as California Waterfix, the purpose of the project is to update the current water infrastructure to secure it from sea-level rise, earthquakes and levee breaks, but the biological opinions fail to identify how two new deep-tunnel diversions will prevent significant harm to the California salmon fishery, endangered species and water quality.  The delta provides drinking water to more than 25 million people, water for 3 million acres of crops and essential habitat for more than 700 species of fish and other wildlife.

Decades of increasingly unstainable water diversions have already brought several of the area’s migratory and resident fish close to extinction.

The proposed project is expected to increase these diversions. “By greenlighting WaterFix, the federal government is greenlighting extinction,” says Rachel Zwillinger, Defenders’ water policy advisor.  For more visit,

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