Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Trout and Vineyards Compete for Water in Wine Country

California's vineyards are stealing water from the fishes in nearby rivers, a new study suggests, and the competition between farmers and fish for water is intensifying.

"Nearly all of California's salmon and trout populations are on the path to extinction and if we're going to bring these fish back to healthy levels, we have to change the way we manage our water," study researcher Theodore Grantham, of the University of California, Davis, said in a statement. "Water withdrawals for agricultural uses can reduce or eliminate the limited amount of habitat available to sustain these cold-water fish through the summer."

The findings, published today in the May issue of the journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, link higher death rates for threatened juvenile steelhead trout with low water levels in the summer and the amount of vineyard acreage upstream.

"I don't suggest we get rid of vineyards, but we do need to focus our attention on water management strategies that reduce summer water use," Grantham said. "I believe we can protect flows for fish and still have our glass of wine."

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