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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.

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 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.

interactive image:  photo - The San Joaquin River in Central California; click for larger photo
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:

Additional Highlights of 2011

Other developments during Fiscal Year 2011 included:

Several other documents were released throughout the year in support of various projects and activities across the program. Reclamation released:

During 2012

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:

interactive image:  photo - The San Joaquin River in Central California; click for larger photo
Reclamation’s Technical Service Center installed a fish trap at the Hills Ferry Barrier. If adult salmon are captured, they can be tagged and followed with telemetry equipment
interactive image:  photo - the Hills Ferry Barrier is installed seasonally across the San Joaquin River at the confluence of the Merced River; click for larger photo
The Hills Ferry Barrier is installed seasonally across the San Joaquin River at the confluence of the Merced River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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.

Looking Ahead

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

Hills Ferry Barrier

Every fall, the California Department of Fish and Game constructs the Hills Ferry Barrier on the San Joaquin River near the Merced River confluence to restrict passage of adult fall-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead upstream, where habitat and water quality may be unsuitable for these fish.

One of the studies required in legislation on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program called for evaluation in 2011 of the effectiveness of the Hill Ferry Barrier. The study continued in 2012.

Improvements to the structure are currently under consideration to improve opportunities for data collection, manage fish movement, better evaluate barrier effectiveness, and increase the rigidity and “fish tightness” of the structure. The barrier will be used to block anadromous fish species from moving upstream until the restoration area is considered ready for salmon reintroduction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Program Wins Award

interactive image:  photo - Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar congratulates SJRR Program Manager Alicia Forsythe on a 2011 Partners in Conservation Award during a ceremony in Washington, DC; click for a larger photo
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.

 



 

April 18, 2012