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Water ways — unclear future

Additional remedies to protect salmon are likely as the U.S. District Court of Judge Oliver Wanger in Fresno continues hearings on protecting endangered and threatened salmon species between now and next March, when a new biological opinion is expected to be released that will guide actions for the long term protection of winter-run and spring-run Chinook and Central Valley steelhead.

Judge Wanger ruled in July that the salmon species "are unquestionably in jeopardy," but to the relief of many, he did not call for an immediate cutback in water deliveries that would have been devastating to this year's almond crop in affected areas. However, he determined that the canals and pumps that deliver water to California's farms and cities were causing "irreparable harm" to the salmon, suggesting that both short and long-term protections will include more pumping cutbacks.

Hard hit will be major almond producing counties such as Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin and Stanislaus.

Meanwhile, a report released in July by the Public Policy Institute of California endorses a peripheral canal to carry water around the Delta as the least expensive and most promising way to ensure reliable water supplies for Californians.

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