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Judge upholds fish protection ruling

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Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2007 10:00 pm

An Alameda County judge has upheld a ruling that could force the state's Banks Pumping Plant to close in two months.

The state Department of Water Resources and some of the agencies that get water from the California Aqueduct challenged last month's original ruling that the pumps must be shut down. The challengers stated that they had additional documentation that showed the state is doing all it can to protect Chinook salmon and Delta smelt from being killed by the pumps.

The fish are protected under the California Endangered Species Act, and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance filed suit in December 2006 demanding that the state's Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Water Resources come up with a plan to protect these fish from the massive pumps.

The court order issued Tuesday affirms an order from late March, and restates the deadline the two agencies have - 60 days from the April 17 judgment - to come up with a protection plan or shut down the pumps, which send water to 25 million people.

Department of Water Resources Director Lester Snow said in a statement that the water department plans to appeal the decision. He added that the Department of Water Resources and Department of Fish and Game will come up with a statement by early May that would affirm that the agency has not violated either the state or federal endangered species laws by running the pumps.

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