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Major Accomplishments: San Joaquin River Restoration Project

interactive image:  photo - View of the restored San Joaquin River; click for larger photo
View of the restored San Joaquin River.

The San Joaquin River Restoration Program is a comprehensive, long-term effort to restore flows to the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River, in order to create a self-sustaining Chinook salmon fishery in the river, while reducing or avoiding adverse water supply impacts from restoration flows.

Primary Goals

There are two primary goals: Restoration and water management.

The restoration goal is to restore and maintain fish populations in the main stem of the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River, including naturally reproducing and self-sustaining populations of salmon and other fish.

The water management goal is to reduce or avoid adverse water supply impacts to all of the Friant Division long-term contractors that may result from interim and restoration flows.

Federal participation in the Program is mandated under the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.

Interim Flow Releases Begin

interactive image:  photo - After:  A view of part of the San Joaquin River after restoration from its condition shown on the previous page; click for larger view
After: A view of part of the San Joaquin River after restoration from its condition shown on the previous page.
interactive image:  photo - Before:  A view of part of the San Joaquin River that was later restored. Restoration is shown on the following page; click for larger photo
Before: A view of part of the San Joaquin River that was later restored. Restoration is shown on the following page.

Interim flow releases started in October 2009 and the San Joaquin River was reconnected to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in March 2010, a stretch of roughly 330 miles -- a phenomenon that has not occurred in more than 60 years, with the exception of flood flow releases.

Other Highlights of Fiscal Year 2010

Entering Fiscal Year 2011

The second year of interim flows began October 1, 2010.

As part of the continuing Program and its 2011 goals, the Mid-Pacific Region expects to complete the Friant-Kern and Madera Canals Expansion Feasibility Study and the Friant-Kern Canal Reverse Flow Pumpback Feasibility Study.

In addition, a Draft and Final Program Environmental Impact Statement/Report will be released to the public, evaluating the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of river restoration.

In addition, under the Program in Fiscal Year 2011:

interactive image:  photo - After:  Sack Dam and the same fish-ladder structure, as shown on the previous page, but with water flowing through it in 2010; click for larger photo
After: Sack Dam and the same fish-ladder structure, as shown on the previous page, but with water flowing through it in 2010.
interactive image:  photo - Before:  The fish-ladder structure at Sack Dam on the San Joaquin River in 2009 before the return of flows; click for larger photo
Before: The fish-ladder structure at Sack Dam on the San Joaquin River in 2009 before the return of flows.

Challenges

Monitoring and adjusting flows related to seepage will continue to be a primary focus for the Program as the Region continues to work with the communities and landowners to address concerns. More than 90 groundwater wells have been installed and, by next spring, the Program will have more than 100 wells monitoring the groundwater table along the river, related to interim flow releases. Preliminary data from the first full year of interim flows is being analyzed. The Program’s extensive monitoring and better understanding of how to manage flows will help determine what channel improvements and mitigation measures will be needed.

Looking Ahead

For the next few years, Program activities will focus on continuing interim flow operations and data collection. Smaller channel improvements and other mitigation projects will be implemented to allow for higher flows, and the Sack Dam improvements and Arroyo Canal fish screen project will be constructed. Looking ahead five years, major channel improvements will occur and salmon will be reintroduced back into the river.

More information can be found at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/sjrrp.

interactive image:  photo - First San Joaquin River interim flows are released from Friant Dam in October 2009; click for larger photo
interactive image:  photo - Volunteers clean up a portion of the San Joaquin River watershed; click for larger photo
interactive image:  photo - A salmon spawning ground created at Ledger Island; click for larger photo
First San Joaquin River interim flows are released from Friant Dam in October 2009. Volunteers clean up a portion of the San Joaquin River watershed. A salmon spawning ground created at Ledger Island.
interactive image:  photo - The Hills Ferry Barrier is installed seasonally to prevent anadromous fish in the San Joaquin River from following false migratory paths; click for larger photo
interactive image:  photo - Wells have been installed to monitor the groundwater table near the river; click for larger photo
interactive image:  photo - The Mendota Pool and Dam is a focus of an ongoing study regarding improvements and fish passage on the river; click for larger photo
The Hills Ferry Barrier is installed seasonally to prevent anadromous fish in the San Joaquin River from following false migratory paths. Wells have been installed to monitor the groundwater table near the river The Mendota Pool and Dam is a focus of an ongoing study regarding improvements and fish passage on the river.

The San Joaquin River was reconnected to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in March 2010, a stretch of roughly 330 miles -- a development that has not occurred in more than 60 years, with the exception of flood flow releases.

March 31, 2011