The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Steve Rothert, American Rivers, 530-277-0448
Amy Kober, American Rivers, 206-213-0330 x23

American Rivers Calls for Water Management Overhaul, Supports Disaster Relief on Eve of Secretary Salazar's Visit to Fresno


American Rivers today called for fundamental changes to the way
water is managed in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system to improve
conditions for farms, fisheries and the environment, on the eve of
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's visit to drought-stricken Fresno. The
nation's leading river conservation organization also pledged to
support disaster-relief efforts to help Central Valley farming
communities and coastal fishing families who have been impacted by the
state's water problems.

American Rivers recently expanded its operations in California to
better address the critical challenges facing the state's rivers and
water supply.

"Outdated water management in the Delta has put our water supply,
the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen, and the health of our
environment in jeopardy," said Steve Rothert, California regional
director for American Rivers. "This crisis is exactly why we named the
Sacramento-San Joaquin river system the nation's #1 Most Endangered
River for 2009. We need to overhaul the way we manage water so we can
protect people, jobs, and the environment."

American Rivers recommended the following short, mid, and long-term solutions to the current water crisis:

1) Disaster relief: American Rivers supports the disaster relief
approved by the Obama administration for farming families and is
calling for federal disaster relief for fishing families whose jobs
have been lost as a result of recent fishing restrictions.

2) Water conservation and efficiency: Farms, cities and businesses
must use the water we have more wisely. The state must implement water
conservation and efficiency measures on a scale not yet attempted.
Conservation and efficiency would save significant amounts of water,
money, and energy.

3) Overhaul Delta water management: Water management decisions must
meet the dual purposes of water supply and ecosystem recovery. We must
scale back the reliance of municipal and agricultural interests on the
Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and the state must invest
significantly in alternative water supply initiatives. Science-based
processes like the Bay Delta Conservation Plan that are developing
comprehensive solutions to meet multiple water needs must be given a
chance to work.

"Now is not the time for rash measures that will further cripple
this fragile river system, cause key wildlife to go extinct forever,
and set us up for bigger crises down the road," said Rothert. "American
Rivers is committed to working with our partners to develop long term,
durable solutions for water supply and river health."

Much of the irrigation water for Central Valley crops comes from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. A court recently ordered cutbacks in
water pumping from the Delta to protect the critically endangered delta
smelt and the overall health of the ecosystem, which is on the brink of
collapse. California's salmon fishery has been largely closed the past
two years, resulting in economic losses of $270 million and nearly
2,700 lost jobs in 2009 alone.

American Rivers named the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system the
nation's #1 most endangered river on April 7 because of the threats
that outdated water and flood management pose to people and the
environment statewide. Learn more at

American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.