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San Francisco Bay Fund Inventory of Projects

San Francisco Bay Fund Inventory of Projects

San Joaquin River Restoration Project

Organization: Natural Resources Defense Council
2000, 2001, 2002 & 2005 Grant Recipient - Contra Costa and Solano counties

2012 Update

This year marks the sixth year of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program and the third year of renewed river flows. For almost 60 years, the operations of Friant Dam diverted the entire flow of the river and dried out approximately 60 miles of downstream river bed, wiping out the historic salmon runs on the San Joaquin River. Thanks to years of hard work on the part of state and federal agencies, farmers, conservation groups, water districts and other stakeholders, the San Joaquin River once again flows all the way to the sea. In preparation for reintroducing salmon in 2012, the Restoration Program successfully achieved many key milestones.

  • Improved Flood Protection

    The restoration project area is bordered by mostly agricultural lands that are converted wetlands and have a long history of high groundwater tables. Last year, the Restoration Program and local landowners completed a three-year effort to develop a seepage management plan to help protect local agriculture.
     
  • Water Supply Benefits

    The Restoration Program has succeeded in providing substantial water supply benefits to Friant farmers as envisioned in the San Joaquin River Restoration settlement agreement. In the first two years of flows, water management programs have offset water supply impacts and provide almost 200,000 acre-feet more than what was released for the river when including groundwater recharge.
     
  • Project Planning and Permits

    In April of 2010, the Restoration Program released the draft programmatic environmental document. Scheduled for completion in summer of 2012, the document will allow the agencies to begin implementing restoration projects in earnest, including constructing habitat, as well as flood and water management projects to achieve the Restoration Program’s goals of restoring flows and salmon while minimizing water supply impacts.
     
  • Reintroducing Salmon in 2012

    Reintroduction of salmon will not be a single event – it will be an ongoing process. The reintroduction of salmon in 2012 will sow the seeds for future returning adults and begin the process of restoring the San Joaquin River’s once great salmon runs. A wealth of information will be gleaned in the first years of initial releases and help inform the construction of restoration projects currently in development. While some projects are behind schedule, the program always envisioned reintroducing salmon while constructing projects that further improve conditions in the river.

Quick Links

Project Photos

The San Joaquin River (shown as a yellow line) is California’s second largest river, and it is a major tributary to the Bay-Delta. Historically, this river supported a thriving fishery and riparian ecosystem.

The San Joaquin River (shown as a yellow line) is California’s second largest river, and it is a major tributary to the Bay-Delta. Historically, this river supported a thriving fishery and riparian ecosystem.

The Friant Dam, completed in 1944, diverted virtually all of the natural stream
flow resulting in the

The Friant Dam, completed in 1944, diverted virtually all of the natural stream flow resulting in the "dewatering" of over 50 miles of river.

The Friant Dam caused the expiration of spring and fall run chinook salmon and
steelhead which once numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
It also contributed to the loss of thousands of acres of wetland and riparian habitat.
The above graph is a normal year hydrograph showing what the unimpaired flow would
be without Friant Dam and the actual flow released (in red) down the river.

The Friant Dam caused the expiration of spring and fall run chinook salmon and steelhead which once numbered in the hundreds of thousands. It also contributed to the loss of thousands of acres of wetland and riparian habitat. The above graph is a normal year hydrograph showing what the unimpaired flow would be without Friant Dam and the actual flow released (in red) down the river.

In January of 2001 and 2002, in partnership with the San Joaquin River Parkway
and Conservation Trust, the Bay Institute and the San Joaquin River Riparian
Habitat Restoration Program, groups of local students plant trees to help
restore a forest along the San Joaquin River at Camp Pashayan.

In January of 2001 and 2002, in partnership with the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, the Bay Institute and the San Joaquin River Riparian Habitat Restoration Program, groups of local students plant trees to help restore a forest along the San Joaquin River at Camp Pashayan.

Last modified: 6/21/2012 3:22 PM by S. Haren

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