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. Efforts are now underway to restore the river and continue providing agricultural lands with vital irrigation, among other water demands.
After an 18-year lawsuit to restore water flows to a 60-mile dry stretch of river and to boost the dwindling salmon populations, the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement is underway. Water releases are now used to restore the San Joaquin River and to provide habitat for naturally-reproducing populations of self-sustaining Chinook salmon and other fish in the San Joaquin River. Long-term efforts also include measures to reduce or avoid adverse water supply impacts from the restoration flows.
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.
Under pressure from Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, state regulators once again postponed a vote on a contentious plan to force San Francisco and several big San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts to give up some of their water supplies for environmental protection. On the eve of Wednesday’s scheduled vote, Brown and the man who will succeed him next year, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, asked for a month’s delay and promised to get involved in ongoing settlement negotiations.
When county officials from California flew across the country last month to hear President Trump speak at the White House, they got an earful from the commander in chief. Trump slammed the Golden State, which has suffered through more than five years of severe drought that ended only last year, for sending its water out to sea rather than using it to nourish crops. … The latest water struggle involves the California State Water Resources Control Board, which is set to decide whether to allow more water to flow through the San Joaquin River and its tributaries.
Jake Wenger grows walnuts on land where early settlers arrived in search of gold and instead found rich soil. His orchards just west of Modesto stretch 700 acres and supply a nut company that has remained in his family for four generations. Like other farmers in this congressional district at the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley, Wenger, 34, said he fears his livelihood is under siege by a state plan to reduce the waters diverted from Northern California rivers for irrigation.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors issued a rare rebuke of the city water department Tuesday, claiming the agency is on the wrong side of a state water debate that pits California against President Trump. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which provides water to the city and more than two dozen suburbs, has fiercely opposed a far-reaching state plan to revive California’s river system, including the languishing Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, because it means giving up precious water supplies.
San Francisco has always been on the periphery of California’s water wars — until last week. That’s when San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced with three co-sponsors a resolution to the Board of Supervisors that San Francisco should help maintain river flows in the San Joaquin by reducing its take from the Tuolumne, a tributary.
The rivers that once poured from the Sierra Nevada, thick with snowmelt and salmon, now languish amid relentless pumping, sometimes shriveling to a trickle and sparking a crisis for fish, wildlife and the people who rely on a healthy California delta. A state plan to improve these flows and avert disaster, however, has been mired in conflict and delays.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and some state representatives in the Bay Area are calling for voluntary settlement agreements, rather than a State Water Board proposal, to bolster the salmon population in tributaries of the San Joaquin River. In a letter Friday to water board chairwoman Felicia Marcus, Feinstein said a voluntary settlement will achieve more in restoring fish in the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers.
It’s rare that Westlands Water District and San Francisco face identical problems, but plans to keep more water flowing in the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers – leaving less for irrigators and cities – is bringing the two together. … The drama started in July when the State Water Resources Control Board issued a new water plan for the lower San Joaquin River recommending that 30 to 50 percent of the water — 40 percent is the target — would stay in the river as “unimpaired flows.”
The State Water Resources Control Board, composed of five people appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, will hold two days of hearings starting Tuesday on a proposal to leave more of the water in the lower San Joaquin River and its three tributaries, the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus. The mandate would mean more water will follow its natural course through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to the ocean.
California Resources Secretary John Laird is making a final attempt to negotiate a deal with major water users to voluntarily reduce use before a separate agency imposes regulations. Remind me: In July, the State Water Resources Control Board proposed dedicating much more water from the San Joaquin River and its tributaries to the environment and less to farms, industry, and individuals. A vote was set for Wednesday.
The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are the two major Central Valley waterways that feed the Delta, the hub of California’s water supply network. Our last water tours of 2018 will look in-depth at how these rivers are managed and used for agriculture, cities and the environment. You’ll see infrastructure, learn about efforts to restore salmon runs and talk to people with expertise on these rivers.
The backdrop of [President Donald] Trump’s tweets is a charged debate before the State Water Resources Control Board, the agency tasked with allocating California’s water supplies. It is set to vote this month on a plan to increase flows in the San Joaquin River and its tributaries, which would help fish but hurt farmers.
A Modesto councilman called on the city to contribute toward efforts to resist a state water grab that’s become an emotionally charged issue in the region. Councilman Mani Grewal said at Tuesday’s council meeting the state plan to take large amounts of Tuolumne River water to rejuvenate the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta would create a “regulatory drought” in Stanislaus County.
A final draft plan for the San Joaquin River system has been released by state water regulators. … But Friday the State Water Board also released a “framework” for a similar plan being prepared for the Sacramento River watershed, which would see even larger reductions of diversions in the north valley.
State regulators proposed sweeping changes in the allocation of California’s water Friday, leaving more water in Northern California’s major rivers to help ailing fish populations — and giving less to farming and human consumption.
California water officials announced an ambitious plan Friday to revive some of the state’s biggest rivers, a move that seeks to stave off major devastation to wetlands and fish, but on the back of cities and farms.
New water storage is the holy grail primarily for agricultural interests in California, and in 2014 the door to achieving long-held ambitions opened with the passage of Proposition 1, which included $2.7 billion for the public benefits portion of new reservoirs and groundwater storage projects. The statute stipulated that the money is specifically for the benefits that a new storage project would offer to the ecosystem, water quality, flood control, emergency response and recreation.
For more than 100 years, invasive species have made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home, disrupting the ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually in remediation.
The latest invader is the nutria, a large rodent native to South America that causes concern because of its propensity to devour every bit of vegetation in sight and destabilize levees by burrowing into them. Wildlife officials are trapping the animal and trying to learn the extent of its infestation.
Along the banks of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Oakley, about 50 miles southwest of Sacramento, is a park that harkens back to the days when the Delta lured Native Americans, Spanish explorers, French fur trappers, and later farmers to its abundant wildlife and rich soil.
That historical Delta was an enormous marsh linked to the two freshwater rivers entering from the north and south, and tidal flows coming from the San Francisco Bay. After the Gold Rush, settlers began building levees and farms, changing the landscape and altering the habitat.