The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) is seeking to set the record straight on the status of salmon populations in the Sacramento River this year.

“There was generated a lot of hyperbole in the press regarding the health of salmon in the region and prognosticating the demise of the species as a whole,” said Todd Manley, the NCWA government affairs director.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the Association of California Water Agencies, Manley acknowledged the impacts of the drought on fish populations. But he pointed out that more than 9,500 adult winter-run Chinook salmon have still managed to return to the upper reaches of the river—the largest number in more than 15 years.

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As far as water temperatures being too hot for fry and juvenile salmon, he said 200,000 fish have already made it the 60 miles downstream. Investments in side channels are “paying dividends on this stretch of the river.” But state biologists may not be able to fully validate the numbers until as late as next June.

Manley traced back the misleading headlines to one state employee responding to a reporter’s question about hypothetical worst-case scenarios.