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Dianne Feinstein: Manage water, endangered species scientifically

To the editor: The Times editorial board is absolutely correct: the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta must be managed by science, not Congress — and that's exactly what the California Emergency Drought Relief Act does. ("Feinstein-Boxer water bill offers real drought relief," editorial, Aug. 14)

The bill, which I introduced last month with Sen. Barbara Boxer, requires that all decisions about when and how to move water around California must be based on science and existing state and federal law. The bill specifically prohibits federal agencies from taking any action that would harm threatened and endangered species or their habitat that couldn't occur under current law and regulations, including biological opinions.

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One key provision relates to pumping levels, which today are set without the use of all scientific tools available to avoid harm to fish. Our bill addresses this by requiring daily monitoring for fish during certain seasons and conditions when smelt are more likely to be present. This will safeguard fish by ensuring that pumping is reduced when they are nearby.

Science must inform decisions regarding water in California, and that's what this bill would accomplish.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) 

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