Farmers in dry California decry justices' decision to curtail water to protect threatened fish

Economic IndicatorsAssociated Press

California farmers struggling with drought say a U.S. Supreme Court decision favoring a tiny, threatened fish imperils their livelihoods.

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 restrict water deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to protect the 3-inch-long smelt.

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Almond farmer Jim Jasper, whose appeal was denied, says greater balance is needed.

He says the government exacerbates drought by giving more water to the endangered fish, disregarding the jobs and produce farmers provide.

Environmental attorney Kate Poole says the rapidly declining Delta smelt is a sign the massive estuary is unhealthy.

She says a healthy delta benefits farmers and the millions relying on it for drinking water.