Environmentalists want the federal government to cancel or renegotiate more than three dozen long-term water contracts in California's Central Valley because they say they were drawn up using flawed data.
If the request is approved by U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger, agricultural users both north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta say it would likely mean less water for them. Some say the environmentalists' request has the potential to turn the state's intricately woven water world upside down.
At issue is the tiny delta smelt, which environmentalists say is facing extinction. They say the population decline is driven largely by reduced water coming into the delta, and also because increased pumping for users south of the delta has helped wreck critical spawning areas and is damaging the smelt's overall habitat.
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