Major Accomplishments: San Joaquin River Restoration Project
|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.
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
|After: A view of part of the San Joaquin River after restoration from its condition shown on the previous page.|
|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
- The Program returned about 42,000 acre-feet of water back to the Friant Division water contractors through a recapture and recirculation process.
- The Program delivered more than 80,000 acre-feet of uncontrolled flows to Friant Division water contractors.
- The first year of the experimental interim flows finished with the release of about 260,000 acre-feet.
- Information was collected on what some of the major constraints are in the river channels and on what will be needed for reintroduction of salmon.
- An extensive network of monitoring wells continued to be developed to monitor the reaction of the groundwater table related to interim flow releases.
- A permit application was submitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the reintroduction of salmon to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
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:
- Close monitoring of the shallow groundwater table will continue and the Region will continue to work closely with landowners to address potential seepage concerns.
- Draft environmental documents will be released for public comment on two high priority projects that will significantly improve the ability to move water through the river system and sustain fish habitat.
- The Region is working with the San Luis Canal Company to provide a grant for the installation of four remotely-controlled gates at Sack Dam. This will improve the precision of operations and flow capabilities and capacity of the dam.
|After: Sack Dam and the same fish-ladder structure, as shown on the previous page, but with water flowing through it in 2010.|
|Before: The fish-ladder structure at Sack Dam on the San Joaquin River in 2009 before the return of flows.|
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.
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.
March 31, 2011