The San Joaquin River is now flowing from Friant Dam to the Pacific Ocean, reaching the first milestone in a plan to bring back Chinook salmon.
Restoration of the state's second-longest river should achieve another major goal this summer - a continuous run of water to the ocean even during the dry months of August, September and October.
It has been decades since the river flowed continuously from the dam to the ocean during spring, summer and fall without the help of an unusually wet year.
The connection with the ocean happened about two weeks ago, officials said.
"This is a big moment," said Monty Schmidt, senior water resources scientist for the Natural Resource Defense Council, a national environmental watchdog with an office in San Francisco. "It's a big step toward having a living river again."
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