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Fall 2011

Fish Screens: Part Of The Delta Water Solution

Since 1996, Family Water Alliance has successfully installed 30 small diversion fish screens on the Sacramento River and Delta.  The California Department of Fish and Game estimates that there are over 4,000 unscreened diversions throughout the Sacramento River/ Delta watershed.  While an effort to screen all diversions in the system would be cost prohibitive and take decades to accomplish, prioritizing screening efforts in the Delta should be part of the solution.

The Family Water Alliance Fish Screen Program (FWA FSP) has been successful because of the cost effectiveness of the screens and the assurances provided to landowners and irrigation districts that voluntarily participate.  The goal of the program is to assure that farmers and ranchers are able to continue to irrigate their land while ensuring that they are in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

Phase 7 of our program launched a biological assessment to gather data on fish take and has just competed the second year of monitoring.  The data will prove to be useful in prioritizing fish screening efforts in the future. 

Since the inception of the FWA FSP, in coordination with Intake Screens Inc. and state and federal wildlife agencies, our focus has been to develop a fish screen that not only meets agency criteria, but also functions and performs well for the landowner.  Throughout the research and development stages of our program we have been successful in developing a fish screen that works well on California’s unique river system.

Prioritizing fish screen projects in the Delta is the first step at showing the proactive efforts being made by the agricultural industry in addressing the multitude of problems that plague the Delta.  We believe our fish screen program assists in ensuring long-term water supply reliability for agricultural water users throughout California’s rich agricultural valley. 

As water leaders focus on the issues in the Delta this is the perfect opportunity to highlight a program that has been successful in the North State.  As an organization committed to the sustainability of agriculture we know how important it is to protect water rights and property rights.

We encourage landowners and irrigation districts throughout the Central Valley who are interested in learning more about our program to visit our website and contact us for more information. ■


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