Essay on Conservation of the Delta smelt
The controversy over the conservation of Delta smelt has again highlighted the conflict between human interest and environmentalist’s effort to protect keystone species. Although the water scarcity in California is primarily caused by the three year long drought, the timing of federal court’s decision to reduce water pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to save the Delta smelts no doubt made matters worse. On one hand, it is difficult to reason with farmers who are at the verge of bankruptcy about the importance of species conservation while on the other hand habitat destruction caused by excessive pumping of water from the estuary can result in even more catastrophic consequences.
The Delta smelt is not only endemic to the Sacramento Delta, it is also plays a vital role in maintain other fish population, such as the salmons and bass, which are consumed by humans and have commercial values. In other words, the decline of Delta smelt not only reduce the biodiversity of this area, but more importantly can lead to collapse in other fish populations and its extinction can potentially put the California fishing industry in a state. Therefore, I feel that it is very important for the Governor of California to present a strategy that appeal to the interest of both sides in this controversy. One suggestion is to build large scale water desalination plants to convert sea water to water suitable for irrigation for the farmers. Although water desalination may be costly, it is a long term and viable solution compared to the upgrading of 40% of unemployed farmers to other profession which I feel will be more if not equally costly and unrealistic. At the same time, it will be wise to advise farmers to switch to growing crops that can be sustained with lower water supply despite their lower commercial values. Lastly, I feel it is of utmost importance for the state to correct some of the misconceptions fanned by the media.
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