Environment & Science

Justices won't question California Delta smelt protections

File: Louvers at the Skinner Fish Facility in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta divert most fish away from pumps that lift water into the California Aqueduct. The justices rejected appeals from farmers in California's Central Valley and urban water districts who challenged a plan to protect the 3-inch-long Delta smelt.
File: Louvers at the Skinner Fish Facility in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta divert most fish away from pumps that lift water into the California Aqueduct. The justices rejected appeals from farmers in California's Central Valley and urban water districts who challenged a plan to protect the 3-inch-long Delta smelt.
Mae Ryan/KPCC file photo

The Supreme Court has left in place restrictions on water deliveries from California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to protect a tiny, threatened fish.

The justices on Monday rejected appeals from farmers in California's Central Valley and urban water districts who had challenged a plan put in place by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the 3-inch-long Delta smelt.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco had largely upheld the Fish and Wildlife Service's 2008 biological opinion that restrictions were needed on the use of massive pumps that move water from the North through the state's system of canals to deliver it to farms and cities in central and southern California.

A federal judge had earlier invalidated the study, but allowed its protections to take effect during the appeal.