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Scientists Question Document That Allowed More Pumping In Delta

Sacramento, CA — A panel of independent scientists have challenged the findings of a federal document that cleared the way for more pumping of water out of the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta.

The October 2004 federal document concluded that expanded operations of several water projects did not pose a new threat to endangered salmon and steelhead that migrate through the Delta.

That document allowed the government to renew more than 100 long-term water contracts for farm and city water agencies in southern and central California.

A panel of six scientists have released a report that concluded that the 2004 document known as a biological opinion did not use the best scientific data available.

The panel said the National Marine Fisheries Service failed to consider important influences on the health of salmon and steelhead. It also found the agency didn´t exercise enough caution and used flawed models to predict the impact on fish.

But agency officials say they believe the biological opinion is sound and will wait until another review is completed later this month before deciding whether to make any changes to the salmon protection guidelines.