The San Joaquin River Reconnects to the Delta and the Sea

On March 12th, the San Joaquin River was reconnected to the Bay-Delta and the Pacific Ocean for the first time in 60 years using natural river flows.  Part of the San Joaquin River Settlement in 2006, the flows being released from Friant Dam this spring, combined with storm runoff from a few small tributary creeks, were enough to re-wet 150 miles of river, join with the Merced River and continue on downstream to the Bay.  The goal of these releases in advance of reintroducing salmon in 2012 is to collect data to improve our understanding of the river and begin the process of healing the San Joaquin.  For salmon fishermen, these flows represent a rare piece of good news during a time when salmon populations have crashed throughout the state, leading to the closure of the commercial salmon fishery for the past two years.  But really all Californians have reason to be excited.  The San Joaquin is one of our state’s great rivers and a vital public resource to be enjoyed by all.  But perhaps even more importantly, restoring the San Joaquin can serve as an example for resolving other water resource conflicts in the state. Environmentalists, farmers, fishermen and resource agencies can work together to balance water needs so as to sustain agriculture, support a healthy environment and improve water quality for millions of Californians.