san joaquin river

Jim Milbury / NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region

Before Friant Dam was built in the 1940s to store water for farms and cities across Central California, Chinook Salmon called the San Joaquin River home. The infrastructure project severely slowed flows on the river and the salmon went extinct. Now more than sixty years later salmon are slowly being reintroduced into the river, but some people say it’s just too late for the fish to thrive again here. Their reasoning?  Climate change.

Ken Lund / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Federal officials say water from Friant Dam may connect to the ocean this summer.  But some people aren’t so sure it’ll happen.

As part of one of the largest restoration projects in the country groups will begin working this summer to fully connect water flowing out of Friant Dam in the San Joaquin River to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to the ocean.

“It’s going to look like a small stream, a couple of inches, maybe a foot or more in some deeper pools,” says Alicia Forsythe with the San Joaquin River Restoration Program.

Ezra David Romero

A new listing of America’s “Most Endangered Rivers” released Tuesday ranks a Central Valley waterway near the top of the list. 

The environmental group American Rivers says the San Joaquin River Basin is the nation’s second most endangered river.  It trails only the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. The group’s John Cain says four years of drought has taken its toll on the San Joaquin.

San Joaquin River
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio / White Ash Broadcasting

Despite promises that El Nino 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. The release is part of a program to restore the river's long-extinct salmon population on a 60-mile stretch of the channel that is typically dry.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A bill that aims to deliver more water to San Joaquin Valley farms has passed the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

The Western Water and American Food Security Act would change the way the government manages both water in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta and threatened species. Supporters say it would allow more water to be captured from early season storms, while still protecting the environment.

Valley Republican David Valadao authored the bill. He says existing regulations not only hurt farmers, they also aren't helping fish.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For years, the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust has worked to preserve the river bottom from development between Friant Dam and Highway 99. While the parkway, and its partner agency, the San Joaquin River Conservancy have amassed thousands of acres of land along the river, much of that land isn't regularly open to the public. 

Water Board Considers Voluntary Water Cut From Delta Area Farmers

May 21, 2015
California Department of Water Resources

Some farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta who hold the most senior water rights may agree to a 25-percent cut in their consumption. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the proposal comes as California water regulators consider mandatory curtailments.

Under the proposal, farmers who hold rights to divert water along a river or stream would either reduce irrigation use or leave fields fallow. In exchange, they want guarantees that regulators wouldn’t restrict remaining water. Jennifer Spaletta, an attorney for a group of farmers, says it’s a practical solution.

Drought May Mean The End For Some Native Fish

May 14, 2015
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The drought in California is taking a heavy toll on native fish. Some experts fear if the drought lasts much longer, it may be a death knell for some species. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the Delta smelt is likely headed toward extinction.

Brown Revises Bay Delta Water Plan, Faces Criticism

May 1, 2015

California Governor Jerry Brown has revised his plan to restore habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, much to the dismay of environmental groups. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the plan also includes design changes for the proposed twin tunnels that would carry water south.

Governor Brown sold his plan to build two tunnels in the Delta with the promise that habitat would be restored. The number most commonly mentioned was 100,000 acres. Brown says that was just an “idea” with no way to pay for it.  He now proposes 30,000 acres.

Efforts To Restore Spring-Run Salmon On San Joaquin River Move Ahead

Feb 18, 2015
State Department of Water Resources

State and federal fish and wildlife agencies will take a significant step today in restoring what was once the largest salmon run in California. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, thousands of hatchery-raised spring-run Chinook salmon will be released into the San Joaquin River.

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