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." The San Joaquin had been mostly dry for about 60 miles over the last six decades after Friant was built to provide irrigation water for farmers and flood protection for surrounding residents.
The NRDC filed a lawsuit in the late 1980s to revive the river. Nearly two decades later, environmentalists, farmers and the federal government signed an agreement to restore the river. Now, in the first full year of the restoration, east San Joaquin Valley farmers will lose up to 230,000 acre-feet of water to keep the flow going. It amounts to 18 percent of the water they have been getting after an average season. Read the full story at fresnobee.com.