San Joaquin River Restoration Program
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 Central California, 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 water 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.
The San Joaquin River in Central California
Interim Flow Releases
The second year of interim flows concluded September 30, 2011. Interim flow releases first began in October 2009 and the San Joaquin River was reconnected to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in March 2010, a stretch of roughly 330 river miles -- an event that had not occurred in more than 60 years without flood flow releases. During 2011, data collection continued in support of interim flows, including water temperature, groundwater levels, sediment, water quality, dissolved oxygen and biological studies.
Seepage management activities that supported interim flows included:
- Updating the Seepage Management Plan to incorporate landowner feedback on thresholds and operations.
- Working on a process for selecting and installing projects and beginning development with landowners of a Seepage Project Handbook to document the process.
- Continuing to monitor shallow groundwater wells to address seepage concerns and installing an additional 35 wells in Water Year 2011 to expand the groundwater monitoring network to 146 wells on public and private property to better understand changes in shallow groundwater conditions in response to interim flow releases.
Additional Highlights of 2011
Other developments during Fiscal Year 2011 included:
- A Draft Program Environmental Impact Statement/Report was released for public comment and hearings were conducted within the study area and Sacramento.
- Allocated more than 680,000 acre-feet and delivered more than 350,000 acre-feet of Recovered Water Account water to date, of which 480,000 acre-feet was allocated in 2011.
- Recaptured and recirculated more than 29,600 acre-feet of Interim Flows in 2011.
- Information continued to be collected on some of the major constraints in the river channel to fish reintroduction and on what actions will need to be implemented prior to and during reintroduction of salmon.
- The program entered into a financial assistance agreement with the Henry Miller Reclamation District (San Luis Canal Company) for the environmental compliance and design aspects of a fish passageway and modifications to Sack Dam and a fish screen on the Arroyo Canal.
- Reclamation awarded the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust a grant to help fulfill the invasive vegetation monitoring and management commitments as part of the interim flow project.
- The SJRRP was one of 17 recipients of the Partners in Conservation Award from the Department of the Interior for its extensive collaborative efforts.
Several other documents were released throughout the year in support of various projects and activities across the program. Reclamation released:
- An updated Seepage Management Plan coordinated with landowners.
- A Draft 2011 Annual Technical Report summarizing monitoring and analysis results to date related to interim flows.
- A Draft Monitoring and Analysis Plan presenting studies, monitoring network changes, and development of analytical tools scheduled for 2012 implementation of the interim flows.
- A public draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment for the Friant-Kern Canal Capacity Restoration project.
- A final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for the recirculation of recaptured Water Year 2012 SJRRP Interim Flows.
The third year of interim flows began October 1, 2011. The program expects to complete the Friant-Kern Canal Capacity Restoration Feasibility Study and begin construction on the project in 2012. The Friant-Kern Canal Reverse Flow Pumpback and Madera Canal Capacity Restoration Feasibility Studies are anticipated for public review in 2012.
In addition, under the program in Fiscal Year 2012:
- 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.
- Several pilot projects and studies will be conducted as part of the monitoring and analysis required to address areas where more information is needed in order to make the best decisions for the successful habitat restoration and reintroduction of fish to the river.
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 and begin installing projects to help address seepage challenges. Data from groundwater monitoring wells from the first two years of interim flows is being analyzed and is helping determine what channel improvements and mitigation measures are needed for the successful reintroduction of salmon.
For the next two 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 Arroyo Canal Fish Screen and Sack Dam Fish Passage project will be constructed.
More information: http://www.restoresjr.net
Program Wins Award
|Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar congratulates San Joaquin River Restoration Program Manager Alicia Forsythe on a 2011 Partners in Conservation Award during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.|
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar selected the Mid-Pacific Region’s San Joaquin River Restoration Program as one of 17 recipients for the 2011 Partners in Conservation Awards for its outstanding conservation, collaboration, cooperation and communication achievements. The award recognizes efforts toward the Department of the Interior’s priorities of widespread engagement of youth, tribes, local communities and states, other federal agencies, business and industry, private for-profit and non-profit institutions, and private landowners.