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Judge Stops Water

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Original Title:
Judge Orders State Water Pumping Halt

A Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the state must stop pumping water to more than 23 million Californians unless the state complies with wildlife protection laws defending endangered fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta.

Under the ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch, the Department of Water Resources did not have the necessary permission to operate the crucial Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant near Tracy, a pumping station responsible for transfering water from the delta into the California Aqueduct.

Roesch gave DWR officials 60 days to obtain permission from state wildlife authorities to keep running the station. The water will keep flowing while the state decides how to respond to the order.

Environmentalists spearheaded by the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance sued the state, claiming the station pumps sucked in and killed migrating runs of salmon and Delta smelt, impacting a population protected under the state's Endangered Species Act.

The Banks Pumping Plant is the first pumping plant for the California Aqueduct and the South Bay Aqueduct. It provides the necessary energy for the California Aqueduct to flow until it reaches other pump stations further along the aqueduct (80 miles). The station feeds water to more than 23 million Californians as well as thousands of acres of farmland statewide.

Department of Water Resources officials were reviewing the ruling and have 15 days to file a request with the judge to overturn his ruling.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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