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 SJV Water

Endangered salmon program waiting, watching for possible call on Millerton water

As the summer grinds on, farms, towns and a critical native salmon restoration program that all rely on water from Millerton Lake near Fresno continue to hope their water won’t be needed to fulfill irrigation contracts further up the San Joaquin Valley. But in this parched year, nothing is certain. If water is required out of Millerton, which happened in drought years 2014 and 2015, that could be especially detrimental for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which is already taking unprecedented steps to nurture its endangered spring run Chinook salmon population.

Related articles: 

Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - November 4

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey 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 Palo Alto Online

New water management plan ponders steep cutbacks

When the Palo Alto City Council publicly backed the Bay-Delta Plan in 2018, it was swimming against the political tide. The plan, formally known as the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary plan, sets limits on how much water agencies can siphon from the three tributaries of the San Joaquin River. While it aims to protect salmon, steelhead and other river species, it has also attracted intense opposition and litigation from water districts that claim that the new restrictions will undermine the reliability of their water supply.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

San Joaquin River flows halted to protect salmon

Flows into the San Joaquin River under a program to bring back native salmon will be stopped now through early September to try and protect fish already upstream. The flow reduction being instituted by the San Joaquin Restoration Program is in reaction to rapidly dwindling runoff coming out of the Sierra Nevada mountains this year.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State plans to order drought restrictions, but it doesn’t have good water data to do it

As California descends deeper into drought, state regulators are planning to do something they’ve done few times in modern history: order thousands of people, farms, and even cities and towns that hold historic water rights to stop drawing water from the rivers, lakes and ponds they rely on. The move is intended to make sure the dwindling flows in California’s waterways are reserved for those with the most senior water rights, as well as for fish and other wildlife. Many of those with lesser rights would have to turn to storage, groundwater or another source, if they have it.

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Aquafornia news AgNet West

Central Valley canals primed to receive support for failing infrastructure

Concurrent efforts to address the needs of Central Valley canals are moving forward. The Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act aims to restore the capacity of here San Joaquin Valley canals. … More than $653 million in federal funding would be provided to support repairs of the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta Mendota Canal, and the California Aqueduct….The bill also includes $180 million to help restore salmon runs on the San Joaquin River. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The pillars for sustainable water management in the Sacramento River basin

On Wednesday, March 3rd, the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors officially adopted our 2021 Priorities. The water leaders in this region look forward to working with our many partners in 2021 to cultivate a shared vision for a vibrant way of life in the Sacramento River Basin. We will continue to re-imagine our water system in the Sacramento River Basin as we also work to harmonize our water priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities to advance our collective goal of ensuring greater water and climate resilience throughout California for our communities, the economy, and the environment. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Creating a place for nature in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley’s quest for groundwater sustainability will result in large amounts of irrigated agricultural lands being retired. A new book explores how some of these lands could be restored to natural areas that bring multiple benefits. We talked to Scott Butterfield, a senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy and one of the book’s editors, about this vision.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

SSJID, OID still waiting for federal approval of plan to help threatened fish & stressed farmers

OID and SSJID … have invested considerable money into improving salmon habitat on the Stanislaus River and as well as conservation measures aimed at reducing growers’ use of water — have proposed pushing the spring pulse flow from an anticipated 1,400 cfs at Vernalis to almost 3,000 cfs. … The SSJID and OID have also worked with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and State Water Contractors that may get only 5 percent of the water they need from the Bureau this year to purchase the [water] by diverting it once it enters the Delta.  

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Deal to help fish threatened by federal agencies

Water releases designed to benefit the critical outmigration of juvenile salmon on the Stanislaus River as well as assist farms and communities along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley already starting to suffer the effects of two consecutive dry years is languishing in the federal bureaucracy. Up to 100,000 acre feet is proposed to be released that belongs to the South San Joaquin and Oakdale irrigation districts that would provide a critical impulse flow from April 15 to May 15. That water based on measurements at Vernalis south of Manteca where the Stanislaus River joins the San Joaquin River would significantly improve the survivability of the threatened salmon.

Aquafornia news Grist

Farms, feathers, and fins share water in California

The rivalry between farms and wildlife for water and land was long seen as a zero-sum game, especially in California where water is such a precious commodity that the state’s water futures are traded on the stock exchange. That competition has been particularly sharp in the Central Valley: 95% of the region’s historic wetlands have transformed into farmland, and the region’s increasingly scarce water supply has been prioritized for farming. As a result, some of the migratory birds that rely on the Central Valley for habitat, food, and water sources have seen steep declines in the past century. 

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Water war continues to affect salmon run

The upcoming salmon season doesn’t look promising for recreational and commercial fishermen on the Coastside. But environmentalists from the Central Valley are hoping to change that in the future by easing the movement of salmon between the Pacific Ocean and inland rivers. One of those rivers is the Tuolumne River. Its stewards at the Tuolumne River Trust are sounding the alarm over the river’s health and say that committing more water to this distant river will help the salmon populations more than 100 miles away in places like Coastside fisheries.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Fish in hot water – Moments that write history #7

As of 2021, California is home to 31 distinct kinds of native salmon, steelhead and trout species, 20 of which are found only in our state. These fish are prized for their economic and cultural significance by local communities, and for their recreational attributes by anglers from around the world. But these fish face an alarming threat that can’t be ignored. If current trends continue, nearly half of these fish will be extinct within the next 50 years. How do we know this? And perhaps an even better question: what can be done about it? 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Improving the health of California’s freshwater ecosystems

California’s rivers, wetlands, and other freshwater ecosystems are in poor health. Water management practices, pollution, habitat change, invasive species, and a changing climate have all taken a toll, leaving many native species in dire straits. And the current approach for managing freshwater ecosystems is not working. In this video Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center, discusses the many benefits these ecosystems bring to California, and outlines a path for improving their condition to secure these benefits for future generations.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Grant to help build Native American cultural center on San Joaquin River

The US Green Building Council Central California (USGBC-CC) has received a grant from the San Joaquin River Conservancy (Conservancy) to commence planning for a Native American and Environmental Resource Center at the San Joaquin River. The project will enable public access and create an Indigenous and Environmental Resource Center at the Circle V property located on the San Joaquin River, outside of Fresno in Madera County. The USGBC-CC received final approval for the grant funding as part of the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Fund and the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Fund of 2006 from the Wild Life Conservation Board.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Delta adapts – Assessing climate change vulnerabilities

As Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson identified in her December blog on the Delta Adapts initiative, “social vulnerability means that a person, household, or community has a heightened sensitivity to the climate hazards and/or a decreased ability to adapt to those hazards.” With an eye toward social vulnerability and environmental justice along with the coequal goals in mind, we launched our Delta Adapts climate change resilience initiative in 2018. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Update on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program

At the October meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Elizabeth Vasquez, Deputy Program Manager for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program for the Bureau of Reclamation and Paul Romero, Supervising Engineer with DWR’s South Central Region Office, updated the board members on the ongoing implementation of the program.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Setting aside environmental water for the San Joaquin River

Protecting the health of California’s rivers, estuaries, and wetlands has been the grandest—and perhaps thorniest—of the many challenges facing the state’s water managers. The San Joaquin River watershed, the state’s third largest and an important water source for irrigating farmland in the San Joaquin Valley, epitomizes this challenge. Yet California is making progress here, bringing a glimmer of hope.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

MID and TID reach key milestone on Tuolumne River fish flows

The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated its support once again for the fishery releases proposed by the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The action reaffirmed FERC findings in February 2019 that dismissed pleas from environmental and sport-fishing groups for much higher flows.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR awards $11 million in grants for fish habitat restoration & enhancement projects

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $11 million in grants to five projects that will improve the habitat and chances of survival for native fish species within the lower San Joaquin River watershed.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Update on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program

The main focus of the program are the barriers to fish passage for salmon from Friant Dam to the ocean and back again. There are three key barriers: the East Side Bypass Control Structure which is in the flood bypass; Sack Dam, which is the intake for Arroyo Canal for Henry Miller irrigation system; and Mendota Dam which controls Mendota Pool. The program also needs to ensure enough habitat for the fish when they return to complete their life cycle,

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Researchers look to wetlands to increase Delta water quality

By looking at how to manage levels of salt, mercury and nutrients heading into the San Joaquin River, researchers are aiming to boost water quality and reduce impacts on fish and other aquatic life in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. … The project will examine wetlands — about 40 miles southwest of UC Merced’s campus — that drain into the San Joaquin River.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Controversial water legislation heads to California Assembly floor

Senate Bill 1 is seen as a pre-emptive strike by California lawmakers before the Trump administration ushers in new biological opinions to alter water deliveries through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Broken bubbling system on Stockton waterfront contributes to growth of harmful algae

The city of Stockton is working to fix a broken bubbling system that has caused an overgrowth of harmful algae along the Stockton waterfront. People who work near the deepwater channel believe the green sludge is preventing others from playing on the water.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Consultant working on deal to pipe Manteca’s recycled wastewater to farm buyers along Delta Mendota Canal

Just how much Manteca’s treated wastewater is worth to agricultural users served by the Delta Mendota Canal that are often at the mercy of fish flows diversions and drought that reduces their Central Valley Project allocations may be determined in the coming year.

Aquafornia news NOAA Fisheries

Blog: First reintroduced salmon return to California rivers in a critical step towards recovery

More than 25 threatened spring-run Chinook salmon have returned to the San Joaquin River so far this year, the first spring-run salmon to swim up the river in more than 65 years. On Battle Creek to the north, at least 50 endangered winter-run Chinook salmon reintroduced in 2018 have also returned — the first to return to the creek since dams built in the early 1900s blocked and damaged their habitat.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Trump said water wars ‘easy’ to fix. What do farmers say now?

On June 28, farmers gathered in Los Banos to ask questions of President Trump’s agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue. GV Wire took the opportunity to ask growers if they believed Trump was doing enough to bring water to farmers. Generally, they said they like how things are progressing.

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.

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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

Central Valley Tour 2020
A Virtual Journey - November 19

This event guided attendees on a virtual journey 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.

This virtual experience focused on the San Joaquin Valley, the southern part of the vast region, which is facing challenges after years of drought, dwindling water supplies, decreasing water quality and farmland conversion for urban growth. The tour gave participants an understanding of the region’s water use and issues as well as the agricultural practices, including new technologies and water-saving measures.

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 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 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 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

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2020
A Virtual Journey - December 10

This event guided attendees on a virtual journey along the San Joaquin River to learn about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects. 

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.

Under the now $1.2 billion plan, efforts are aimed at restoring flows to a 60-mile, mostly dry stretch of the San Joaquin River to revive chinook salmon runs while reducing or avoiding adverse water supply impacts to farmers.

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. 

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

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 project’s history, 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 Bundle

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

San Joaquin RiverFlowing 366 miles from the Sierra Nevada to Suisun Bay, the San Joaquin River provides irrigation water to thousands of acres of San Joaquin Valley farms and drinking water to some of the valley’s cities. It also is the focal point for one of the nation’s most ambitious river restoration projects to revive salmon populations.

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.