A spike in deaths of the endangered Delta Smelt means you may have to pay more for your produce

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -  

An endangered fish could cost you more money at the grocery store.

A spike in deaths of Delta Smelt could affect your wallet.

This little fish is at the heart of a big controversy.

Too many Delta Smelt have been killed recently by the pumps that move water from the San Joaquin Delta to the Central Valley.

So the agencies protecting the endangered fish are taking action.

"Right now, we are seeing the presence of some smelt very small quantities near the pumps. When that occurs the fish agencies that regulate the amount of pumping that can occur have sought to reduce the amount of pumping that’s allowed," said Jim Beck, general manager for the Kern County Water Agency.

In an effort to protect the endangered smelt they are slowing the amount of water to that can be pumped out of the delta and that will affect how much water Kern County farmers have for irrigation.

"For Kern County that means our users have lost the use of about 100,000 acre feet of water significant impact to our water users and our local economy," Beck said.

The lost water is going to cost Kern County farmers a lot of money.

The water agency said the reason this is going to cost Kern County farmers so much money is because the farmers are still going to have to pay for that water from the delta that they are never going to get plus they are going to have to pay for groundwater to irrigate their crops.

Increased costs for farmers will likely mean an increase in the price you pay for fruits and vegetables.

"It could result in an increase at the grocery store for consumers," he said.

Beck said the science being used to make these critical decisions is suspect.

"What we would like to see is for those pumping restrictions to be lifted. We don't believe that there is sufficient scientific data to warrant the drastic measure they have taken this year," Beck said.

 

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