October marked 20 years since the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, a water project aimed at restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, went into effect. After many years of damage caused by water diversions from the delta, Congress acted to fix some obvious problems. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, a Democrat from New Jersey, deserve the credit for getting this law passed.

In California, water equals money, and agricultural operations in the San Joaquin Valley have seized it for their own purposes.

A key goal of this water project is to rebuild the state’s commercially valuable salmon fishery and the rest of the delta ecosystem. The act required water managers to double the average number of adult naturally reproducing salmon (as opposed to hatchery-raised fish) in Central Valley rivers. In spite of good intentions, the law hasn’t worked.
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