Mercury News editorial: CA must preserve Delta’s health

The first, second and third priority for the future of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast, is preserving its health. Everything else, including the needs of the powerful agriculture industry and municipal water agencies, should move further back in line.

The massive water deal passed by the Legislature in 2009 called on the state to conduct an independent, comprehensive study to determine how to achieve a sustainable, healthy delta. A draft released last week stated uncategorically that water users are taking twice as much water as they should. That must stop, the report said, or the sickly delta will eventually become unable to provide safe, clean water for fish, farmers and city dwellers.

The conclusion does not surprise objective students of water policy. There have to be unhealthy consequences of diverting more than 50 percent of the water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers before it circulates through the delta.

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