Water Wars: Pitting Salmon Against Agribusiness

Agribusiness is sucking up water from the Sacramento/ San Joaquin Delta in order to irrigate crops and it's caused the local salmon population to crash.


Salmon and salad. Two things we might not jump to make a link between unless they're both on a menu at a restaurant. However, they're more intensely connected than one might think. And we're not talking water pollution from farm land run off. Nope - we're talking no water at all...for the salmon. Agribusiness is draining the very rivers and streams the salmon need to reproduce.

In an op-ed in Grist, Paul Johnson, owner of Monterey Fish Company, writes: "there's something missing in my line-up in recent years, and my customers and I miss it terribly: local, wild salmon. Not long ago, Chinook salmon pulled from our cold, clean offshore waters, constituted up to 50 percent of my business. Today: zilch, nothing. That's because there hasn't been a commercial salmon season in California and Oregon for the last two years."

And the reason, he cites, is water. Fresh water. Agribusiness is sucking up water from the Sacramento/ San Joaquin Delta in order to irrigate crops - and typically in intensely wasteful fashions. This has caused the local salmon population to crash since they need that fresh water to swim upstream to spawning grounds.

"Unless we change the way we distribute water from the Delta, our salmon will continue their slide toward extinction."

Johnson writes a convincing piece about the connection that paints a startling picture of what the future of local salmon could become if California's agricultural industry doesn't make swift and significant strides in smarter water management.

Jaymi Heimbuch coverrs all things techy, gadgety and green for TreeHugger.
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