News Release Archive

Water Releases Begin October 1 for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program; Final Environmental Document Available

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For Release: October 01, 2009

Non-interactive logos for Reclamation Mid-Pacific Regiona and the California Department of Water Resources
MP-09-133

Media Contacts: 
Reclamation:     Pete Lucero, 916-978-5100, plucero@usbr.gov 
DWR:               Ted Thomas, 916-653-9712, tthomas@water.ca.gov  

For Release On: October 1, 2009


Additional water releases, called Interim Flows, will begin from Friant Dam into the San Joaquin River starting October 1, 2009. The San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act was enacted by Congress in March 2009 authorizing and directing the Secretary of the Interior to implement all provisions in a Stipulation of Settlement (Settlement) in NRDC et al., v. Kirk Rodgers, et al reached in September 2006, including Interim Flow releases. These flows, which are experimental in nature, will provide valuable information regarding flows, temperatures, fish needs, seepage losses, shallow groundwater conditions, recirculation, recapture and reuse conditions, channel capacity (high and low flows), and levee stability. This information will be used in designing the major improvements needed in the river and informing the fish agencies as they craft a salmon reintroduction plan.

The releases will generally range from 350 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 1,600 cfs, with a maximum flow of 1,300 cfs reaching the Chowchilla Bifurcation Structure.  These flow rates have been limited so that no flooding or seepage impacts are expected to occur and will be reduced as necessary if any such impacts are anticipated or observed to occur.  The magnitude of Interim Flow releases after February 2010 will vary depending on the hydrology of the San Joaquin River watershed. 

Reclamation anticipates that some of the flows will be recaptured and recirculated, although the actual amount cannot be predicted at this time because it will depend largely on the amount lost to groundwater infiltration, potential reductions in flows to avoid seepage impacts along the river, safe flow passage amounts past Sack Dam, and the hydrologic and regulatory conditions in the Delta during the flows, among other things.

People who recreate in or along the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to Gravelly Ford should be aware of the potential for periodic higher flows throughout 2010. While Interim Flows are small relative to typical flood releases, more water will be in the river channel than usual and flows will be subject to change. As with all in- and near-water recreation, visitors should adopt appropriate precautions for their safety and the safety of others. For the most current information on the Interim Flows and real-time flow data, please visit www.restoresjr.net.

Non-interactive graphic showing interim flows - Please call 916 978-5100 for assistance if you cannot adequately view.

The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) have released the Final Environmental Assessment, Finding of No Significant Impact, Initial Study, and Mitigated Negative Declaration (EA/FONSI/IS/MND) for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program's (SJRRP) Water Year 2010 (WY 2010) Interim Flows Project. 

The EA/FONSI/IS/MND is available on the SJRRP web site at www.restoresjr.net or Reclamation's web site at www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_project_details.php?Project_ID=3612. The document was prepared in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act. For a compact disc of the document, please contact Ms. Margaret Gidding at 916-978-5461 or mgidding@usbr.gov.

To learn more about the SJRRP, please visit www.restoresjr.net.  The Settlement in NRDC et al. v. Kirk Rodgers et al., accepted by Federal court in October 2006, along with other SJRRP documents, are available on the web site. The Implementing Agencies responsible for the management of the SJRRP include Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the California Departments of Water Resources and Fish and Game.


The Department of Water Resources operates and maintains the State Water Project, provides dam safety and flood control and inspection services, assists local water districts in water management and water conservation planning, and plans for future statewide water needs. Visit our website at http://www.water.ca.gov.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

Relevant Link:

NEPA Document Link