Topic: San Joaquin River Restoration

Overview

San Joaquin River Restoration

The San Joaquin River drains California’s Central Valley, but has been negatively impacted by dam construction, poor streamflows, and poor water quality.

Formerly home to the nation’s largest spring-run of Chinook salmon, the river was dammed in 1942 to provide water to farms and cities in the San Joaquin Valley.

In the 1980s, environmental organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council filed suit to restore water flows to a 60-mile dry stretch of river and to boost the dwindling salmon populations. The lawsuit was settled in 2006.

The San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement’s goals were to refill the 60-miles of dry river bed and salmon runs while minimizing water supply impacts to farmers. Congressional action set the plan in motion.

Water releases are now used to restore the river and to provide habitat for naturally reproducing populations of self-sustaining Chinook salmon and other fish. Long-term efforts also include measures to reduce or avoid adverse water supply impacts from the restoration flows.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Treated wastewater to river being sought

The City of Lathrop has taken another step towards achieving the long-awaited goal of being able to discharge tertiary treated wastewater into the San Joaquin River. With the approval of the Lathrop City Council, the city is now in a contract with Ascent Environmental to initiate the environmental documentation necessary to acquire the permit to discharge of water from the city’s water treatment plant into the river – a move that could pay sweeping dividends to the city in the future.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Editorial: It’s OK to stop, take a deep breath with state water policy

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call on Monday for a new comprehensive water plan for California looks like a smart timeout on one of the state’s trickiest and most intractable battlefronts. As with many political hot potatoes, there is no way to make everyone happy when it comes to water management, because the sides have mutually exclusive goals…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Few details in Newsom’s water policy directive

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered key state agencies to develop a blueprint for meeting California’s 21st-century water needs in the face of climate change.The executive order includes few details and doesn’t appear to set a dramatic new water course for the state. Rather, it reaffirms Newsom’s intentions to downsize the controversial twin tunnels project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, use voluntary agreements to meet new river flow requirements and provide clean drinking water to impoverished communities.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

After 65 Years, Salmon Are Returning to the San Joaquin

Surviving an exhaustive maze of manmade barriers and hungry predators, a hardy group of salmon have beat the odds and returned to spawn in one of California’s most-heavily dammed rivers. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says for the first time in over 65 years, threatened spring-run Chinook adult salmon have returned to the San Joaquin River near Fresno to complete their life cycle.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

Central Valley assemblymember calls out Water Board for claim that contaminating drinking water in disadvantaged communities is not “significant”

Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) ripped the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday for arguing that the harm caused by the Bay-Delta Plan to the drinking water of disadvantaged communities is not “significant”. Gray’s comments came as his legislation, Assembly Bill 637, cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee with bipartisan support.

Tour Nick Gray

2020 Clone of Central Valley Tour 2019
Field Trip - April 3-5

Venture through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Federal government challenges the State Water Board’s amended Bay-Delta water quality control plan

The Amended Plan … has touched off a series of lawsuits due to its controversial unimpaired flow requirements for the Lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries … The Federal Government’s lawsuits challenge the Amended Plan by asserting that it fails to comply with CEQA and congressional mandates that control the operation of the New Melones Dam, which is part of the federally run Central Valley Project (CVP).

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion: Water board staff tries end run around negotiations

When the State Water Resources Control Board voted in December to adopt the Bay-Delta Plan, its members ignored the direction of former Governor Brown and current Governor Newsom to pursue voluntary agreements with our irrigation districts. Many saw this as an act of defiance by former Chair Felicia Marcus, the executive director, and many of the activist staff.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

A nemesis of California environmentalists gains new powers, but also new foes

Democrats and their allies are moving to push back against a former lobbyist and frequent foe of California environmentalists who is on his way to becoming the next secretary of the Interior Department. They don’t have the power to block Trump nominee David Bernhardt, but they do have far more ability to oppose his agenda than they had for the last two years, when he served as the powerful deputy secretary of the department.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Meet California’s new environment czar, who walked the state to ‘reset’

What better way to decompress from a stressful federal government job than by trekking 2,600 miles on foot from Mexico to Canada? That’s what Jared Blumenfeld, the new head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, did three years ago, setting out on the arduous and beloved Pacific Crest Trail that traces California’s searing deserts, rugged mountains and sparkling coastline.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Trump pressure on California water plan excludes public, rushes science, emails show

The Trump Administration has ordered federal biologists to speed up critical decisions about whether to send more water from Northern California to farmers in the Central Valley, a move that critics say threatens the integrity of the science and cuts the public out of the process. The decisions will control irrigation for millions of acres of farmland in the country’s biggest agricultural economy, drinking water for two-thirds of Californians from Silicon Valley to San Diego, and the fate of endangered salmon and other fish.

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Legislation would add local reps to Delta council

Four new voting members, each appointed by representatives of the Delta region, would be added to the Delta Stewardship Council if a bill authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier becomes law. … Frazier introduced Assembly Bill 1194 this week. It would increase the voting membership of the council to 11 members.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Optimism still alive for Temperance Flat dam

Funding awarded for the new Temperance Flat Dam may have fallen short, but hopes for construction are still very much alive. Jason Phillips, Director of Friant Water Authority and alumni of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, has insight as to why those involved with the project are still optimistic.

Aquafornia news OurValleyVoice.com

Water and the future of the San Joaquin Valley overview

The San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest agricultural region and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply—is in a time of great change. The valley produces more than half of the state’s agricultural output. Irrigated farming is the region’s main economic driver and predominant water user. Stress on the valley’s water system is growing. Local water supplies are limited, particularly in the southern half of the region.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Manteca is green leader for treating wastewater

The most eco-friendly wastewater treatment plant in the Northern San Joaquin Valley will be Manteca’s by the time 2020 rolls around. Not only is the treated water returned to the San Joaquin River meeting the latest standards established by the state for water quality, but within six months or so methane gas — a major byproduct of the treatment process that typically has to be burned — will no longer contribute to valley air quality issues.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Monday Top of the Scroll: California’s Central Valley: Ground zero in water war

Now stripped of its once vast wetlands and nearly sucked dry from the overpumping of groundwater during the West’s increasingly common droughts, the fertile valley is in need of a reboot: Its aquifers have shrunk and the remaining water is often contaminated with nitrate and salts. Citing a new water law that will have major effects on water suppliers and farmers, experts are calling for an “all hands on deck” approach to fixing the valley’s water woes.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Climate science: Adapting to change in the San Joaquin Valley

Since 2006, California has been releasing periodic reports on how the state should adapt to the potential impacts of climate change. The most recent report is unique in that it also looks at key climate risks from a regional perspective. Our news director Alice Daniel recently spoke with Joshua Viers, a watershed scientist at UC Merced and one of the authors of the San Joaquin Valley assessment.  

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Opinion: Central Valley farmland must be retired to get new water

Although ending groundwater overdraft will bring long-term benefits, it entails near-term costs. We find that only about a quarter of the Valley’s groundwater deficit can be filled with new supplies at prices farmers can afford. The rest must come from managing demand. We estimate that ending the overdraft will require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Federal commission accepts MID, TID plan for river flows

A federal environmental analysis recommends relicensing the Don Pedro hydroelectric project and accepts a Modesto and Turlock irrigation district plan for well-timed flows to boost salmon in the Tuolumne River. The flows, combined with other measures to assist spawning and outmigrating young salmon, would commit less water to the environment than a State Water Resources Control Board plan that’s unpopular in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Trump seeks to deliver more CA water to Central Valley farmers

While campaigning for president in 2016, Donald Trump promised a cheering Fresno crowd he would be “opening up the water” for Central Valley farmers… Trump took one of the most aggressive steps to date to fulfill that promise Tuesday by proposing to relax environmental regulations governing how water is shared between fish and human uses throughout the Central Valley. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Trump taps ex-California water lobbyist for Cabinet

President Donald Trump on Monday nominated David Bernhardt, the former top lobbyist for a powerful Fresno-based irrigation district, to run the Department of the Interior, raising renewed questions about whether he’d try to steer more California water to his former clients. … Bernhardt is a former lobbyist for Westlands Water District, which serves farmers in Fresno and Kings counties and is one of the most influential customers of the federal government’s Central Valley Project.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Strange bedfellows: Harder praises Trump, Denham for work to keep water for farmers

When it comes to water, the lifeblood of the Central Valley, Democrats don’t have all the answers. So says freshman Representative Josh Harder, suddenly one of the most powerful Democrats in these parts. … “We need to make sure we’re all working together to advance the agenda of the Central Valley,” continued Harder, 32, of Turlock. “I was very encouraged to see some of the measures the Trump administration put forward on water.” 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Bureau of Reclamation names Ernest A. Conant Mid-Pacific Region director

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman today named Ernest A. Conant director of the Mid-Pacific Region. Conant has nearly 40 years of water law experience and previously served as senior partner of Young Wooldridge, LLP.

Aquafornia news Escalon Times

Oakdale, South San Joaquin irrigation districts join water plan lawsuit

Citing what they say would be a disastrous decision for the region, the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts have joined with other members of the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority (SJTA) in a lawsuit challenging the state’s right to arbitrarily increase flows in the Stanislaus and two other rivers.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Santa Clara Valley Water District files suit challenging state plan

In an attempt to block the state’s plan to divert more water toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and away from the Bay Area, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has filed a lawsuit arguing the project could significantly reduce the local water supply. If the plan advances, the water district might have to spend millions of dollars to obtain alternate water supplies and pull up more groundwater.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Editorial: Water districts on Merced, Stanislaus, Tuolumne had no choice but to sue the state

The State Water Resources Control Board proved back on Dec. 12 that it wasn’t listening to a single thing anyone from our region was saying. By voting to impose draconian and scientifically unjustifiable water restrictions on our region, four of the five board members tuned out dozens of scientists, water professionals and people who live near the rivers.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: San Francisco sues state over potentially drastic water reductions

The city of San Francisco is not standing down in California’s latest water war, joining a lawsuit against the state on Thursday to stop it from directing more of the Sierra Nevada’s cool, crisp flows to fish instead of people.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: State should use science to decide Delta water flows

Jon Rosenfield: Last month the State Water Resources Control Board finally required increased flows from three San Joaquin River tributaries, as the first step in a process to update water quality standards for the San Francisco Bay estuary. The board opted for weaker environmental protections in order to reduce impacts to agribusiness and San Francisco, ignoring the potential for changed agricultural practices and investment in sustainable water use to ease or eliminate the impact of reduced water diversions.

Aquafornia news Chico News & Review

State breaks, shifts levees to restore natural floodplains

At the confluence of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers, a few miles west of Modesto, work crews removed or broke several miles of levee last spring and replanted the land with tens of thousands of native sapling trees and shrubs. It’s part of a growing emphasis on reconnecting floodplains to rivers so they can absorb floodwaters. This shift in methodology marks a U-turn from past reliance on levees to protect cities and towns.

Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2019

This tour ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Tour

Central Valley Tour 2018

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.

We ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Chinook salmon reach milestones in San Joaquin River

As work to restore the San Joaquin River continues, scientists are seeing promising signs that salmon can thrive in the river as hatchery fish reach new milestones. A recent breakthrough came in fall 2017, when spring-run Chinook salmon created their nests, called redds, in the deeper and colder parts of the river below Friant Dam.

Tour

Central Valley Tour 2018
Field Trip - March 14-16

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.

We ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018

Participants of this tour snaked along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Major California river adding key ingredient: water

A decade ago, environmentalists and the federal government agreed to revive a 150-mile stretch of California’s second-longest river, an ambitious effort aimed at allowing salmon again to swim up to the Sierra Nevada foothills to spawn.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: House Republicans reopen the bidding on California water bill

House Republicans intent on storing more California water and redirecting it to farms have resurrected some familiar and controversial ideas, this time as part of a must-pass spending bill.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio NPR for Central California

Despite drought, government to release water for San Joaquin River Restoration

Despite promises that El Niño storms will not bring an end to California’s drought, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday that it will begin releasing more water into the San Joaquin River.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: If you’re 26, these California water disputes have lasted longer than you’ve been alive

The now-distant December of 1988 was a big month for California water lawsuits that would last a generation and eventually land in Congress’ lap, where their ripples linger to this day.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

San Joaquin River revival pushes deadlines back

Years late, the first major project of the San Joaquin River restoration is closer to liftoff with a $326 million price tag and a load of political baggage. … The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation this month is unveiling plans and seeking public comment.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Drought doesn’t stop nation’s most ambitious salmon revival in San Joaquin River

Young salmon glide through shallow riffles in the San Joaquin River, not far from busy shopping centers, swift Fresno traffic and a golf course.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sonoma Land Trust taps Fresno conservation leader for director post

Dave Koehler, who hails from Fresno, where he fought to protect the San Joaquin River, has been named executive director of Sonoma Land Trust, the Santa Rosa-based nonprofit organization.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Wildlife officials take steps to restore largest salmon run in California (with audio)

As part of the San Joaquin River restoration project, wildlife agencies will release 54,000 hatchery-produced juvenile sprin-run Chinook salmon.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: Young salmon readied for release into San Joaquin River

Biologists on Wednesday placed 54,000 young salmon into the San Joaquin River near Friant Dam, acclimating the fish to the river in hopes of having them return to spawn in a few years.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: Looking to where San Joaquin River died in 1960s

In the chilly January fog, Bee photographer John Walker and I last week stood at a spot where the San Joaquin River died in the 1960s — the Sand Slough Control Structure in Merced County. We were researching the river restoration story that published in Sunday’s Bee.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council Switchboard

Blog: San Joaquin River Access Guide — A portal for recreation and discovery

For more than 15 years I have lived within a mile of the San Francisco Bay. However it recently dawned on me that I had never actually spent any time on the water exploring this place where Central Valley Rivers and the Pacific Ocean ebb and flow. … For that reason, I am excited by the launch of the San Joaquin River Access Guide, available at SJRiver.org.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council Switchboard

Blog: Rejuvenation and celebration — The return of San Joaquin Fall-Run Chinook Salmon

The peace and quiet of the moment is suddenly broken by a splash in the middle of the river. It’s the sound of fall run Chinook salmon returning to the San Joaquin, bringing with them the foundation for new life and a cause for celebration.

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2014
Field Trip (past)

The 2014 Tour took place November 6-7.

This 2-day, 1-night tour explores challenges associated with restoring flows and a Chinook salmon fishery to the San Joaquin River from below Friant Dam to the confluence with the Merced River.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Still time to catch the San Joaquin River Tour bus

A few seats remain for the Foundation’s Nov. 6-7 San Joaquin River Restoration Tour. This two-day, one-night tour offers you the opportunity to learn the latest about one of the largest river restoration projects in the nation. The tour starts and ends in Fresno.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Register today for San Joaquin River Restoration Tour

Join us on the Nov. 6-7 San Joaquin River Restoration Tour that will explore the challenges associated with restoration of the San Joaquin River, a program that is the result of a legal settlement. See firsthand the progress being made and discuss the current conflicts so you can better understand the coordination taking place to implement one of the largest river restoration projects in the nation. The two-day, one-night tour starts and ends in Fresno.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

A legal giant steps down

No longer will Lawrence K. Karlton’s roar be heard reverberating through the spacious 15th-floor courtroom at 5th and I Streets where he presided. … First, it’s important to understand that the environment is one of Karlton’s favorite areas of the law, especially its place in the California water wars.

Video

Restoring a River: Voices of the San Joaquin

This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.

Video

A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with implementation. 

Maps & Posters

Delta Sustainability Map
Published 2006

This beautifully illustrated 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, focuses on the theme of Delta sustainability.

The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization and fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the California Bay-Delta Authority.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2011

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the history of the project, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state, and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Maps & Posters

California Water Map
Updated December 2016

A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect gift for the water wonk in your life.

Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts – including federally, state and locally funded projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects, wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado River.

Aquapedia background

San Joaquin River and San Joaquin River Restoration Program

The San Joaquin River, which helps drain California’s Central Valley, has been negatively impacted by construction of dams, inadequate streamflows and poor water quality.

Formerly home to the nation’s largest spring-run of Chinook salmon, the river was dammed in 1942 to provide water to farms and cities in the San Joaquin Valley.

Western Water Magazine

Water Policy 2007: The View from Washington and Sacramento
March/April 2007

This issue of Western Water looks at the political landscape in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento as it relates to water issues in 2007. Several issues are under consideration, including the means to deal with impending climate change, the fate of the San Joaquin River, the prospects for new surface storage in California and the Delta.

Western Water Magazine

Farms, Fish and Restoration: The Friant Decision and the Future of the San Joaquin River
November/December 2004

This issue of Western Water explores the implications for the San Joaquin River following the decision in the Natural Resources Defense Council lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation and Friant Water Users Authority that Friant Dam is required to comply with a state law that requires enough water be released to sustain downstream fish populations.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

The Friant Decision and the Future of the San Joaquin River
Nov/Dec 2004

The San Joaquin River provides the water that enables farms up and down the San Joaquin Valley’s eastern side to produce a substantial agricultural bounty. For more than 50 years, the majority of the river has been halted at Friant Dam and diverted north and south for use by farms and homes throughout parts of five counties, in the process making that part of the valley the most productive agricultural region in the world.

Commands