[env-trinity] SF Chron 3 31 10

Greg King gking at asis.com
Thu Apr 1 17:42:04 PDT 2010


It's stunning to consider that this magnificent river was ever  
allowed to go dry, and it's just as remarkable now to learn that  
water has returned. May water to continue to reclaim its natural  
place in this world, and may the species whose very survival now  
hangs in the brink due to overallocation also rebound and thrive  
along with the recovering streams. Thanks to all who have worked to  
attain this welcome result after years of struggle. As Bobker points  
out, it's just a start. But really it's huge.

Greg King
President/Program Director
Siskiyou Land Conservancy
P.O. Box 4209
Arcata, CA 95518
707-498-4900
gking at asis.com
http://siskiyouland.wordpress.com/


On Apr 1, 2010, at 10:14 AM, Byron Leydecker wrote:

> San Joaquin River flowing through dry stretches
>
> S.F. Chronicle-3/31/10
>
> By Carolyn Jones
>
>
>
> Six months after the court-ordered release of water from a Central  
> Valley dam, the San Joaquin River is now reconnected with San  
> Francisco Bay, a major development in the river's long-term  
> recovery and re-establishment of chinook salmon populations.
>
>
>
> The river, 64 miles of which had been choked into a dusty wasteland  
> after the Friant Dam was built northeast of Fresno in the 1940s, is  
> now flowing along its historic channels, merging with the Merced  
> River, pouring into the delta and emptying into the bay.
>
>
>
> "People are kayaking, sunbathing with their ghetto blasters,  
> swimming. Six months ago it was all sand," said Chris Acree,  
> director of Revive the San Joaquin, a Fresno nonprofit group that's  
> been working to restore the river. "It's great to see the river  
> running again."
>
>
>
> The water releases started six months ago, as part of a long-fought  
> settlement among the Bay Institute and other environmental groups,  
> the federal government and Central Valley farmers.
>
>
>
> The San Joaquin River, California's second-longest river, was  
> dammed for flood control and to provide water for farmers. But as  
> it hooks through Fresno and ambles north, the river was mostly dry  
> in two sections, totaling 64 miles. The only water came from local  
> storm runoff - much of it tainted with fertilizers, pesticides and  
> other agricultural residue - and occasional releases from the dam  
> after heavy snowmelts.
>
>
>
> When the river dried up, the fish population did, too.
>
>
>
> "If you want to screw up a river, the San Joaquin is a perfect  
> example," said Gary Bobker, program director for the Bay Institute,  
> which helped negotiate the restoration. "It's like a horror museum."
>
>
>
> Hoping to restore the salmon runs, in 1988 the Bay Institute,  
> Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups  
> sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam.
>
>
>
> Almost 20 years later, in 2006, the parties reached a settlement  
> that will eventually replenish the river for the salmon, refill the  
> aquifer below Fresno and leave more room in the reservoir for  
> farmers. The agreement was signed by President Obama in March 2009.
>
>
>
> Small pulses of water were released starting on Oct. 1 to re-wet  
> the dry parts of the riverbed. On Feb. 1, the amount was increased  
> to a steady 350 cubic feet per second, and on Monday it was bumped  
> up to 1,100 cubic feet per second. Scientists are studying the  
> effects on levees and channels, many of which haven't been used in  
> decades, and by 2014 hope to see the river fully restored year-round.
>
>
>
> Much of the dry riverbed has been littered with rusty cars, old  
> refrigerators and other debris, Bobker said.
>
>
>
> But now, at Mendota, for example, the river is 3 feet deep and 50  
> feet across, Acree said. The banks are lined with 6-foot lupine,  
> and birds, including eagles, are swooping overhead.
>
>
>
> The project will cost about $500 million, covered by state bond  
> funds, the federal government and increased fees on the 15,000  
> farmers who rely on the Friant Dam for some or all of their water.
>
>
>
> The Friant Water Users Authority, which represents farmers from  
> Merced County to the Tehachapis, supported the settlement because  
> eventually the water from the San Joaquin, when it reaches the  
> delta, will be pumped or channeled back to the reservoir for  
> agricultural use.
>
>
>
> "In essence, we'll get to use it twice," said the authority's  
> manager, Ron Jacobsma. "But at this point we are very anxious to  
> get our water back."
>
>
>
> Friant's farmers will see an 18 percent drop in their water  
> allotment because of the releases, he said.
>
>
>
> Although this year most farmers have ample reserves, another year  
> or two of decreased water shipments could lead to fallow fields,  
> laid off farmhands, higher prices for produce and economic ripple  
> effects throughout the Central Valley, he said.
>
>
>
> "It's like when you exhaust your bank account," he said. "It might  
> be OK this year, but it affects your stability in the future."
>
>
>
> For the bay, a restored San Joaquin means "we have a chance to  
> restore these salmon runs that were destroyed," Bobker said.
>
>
>
> Salmon won't be able to pass the dam, but they will be able spawn  
> in the hundreds of streams that trickle into the river.
>
>
>
> "This is not going to solve the problem entirely, but it does mean  
> we'll be able to finally begin healing this river," Bobker said.  
> "So we're crowing right now."
>
>
>
> San Joaquin River
>
> Length: 350 miles. Its basin covers 38,000 square miles - nearly a  
> quarter of California - an area the size of Indiana.
>
>
>
> Headwaters: Several points in the mountains east of Fresno.
>
>
>
> Fish: In 1945, the year before Friant Dam was completed, 56,000  
> chinook salmon swam up the San Joaquin to spawn. After the dam was  
> finished, the number dropped to zero. Fish could not swim past the  
> confluence of the Merced River, 150 miles downstream, because the  
> San Joaquin was dry.
>
>
>
> Irrigation: The San Joaquin provides water for 1 million acres of  
> farmland, producing $2 billion in crops every year.#
>
>
>
>
>
> Byron Leydecker, JcT
>
> Chair, Friends of Trinity River
>
> PO Box 2327
>
> Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
>
> 415 383 4810 land/fax (call first to fax)
>
> 415 519 4810 mobile
>
> bwl3 at comcast.net
>
> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)
>
> http://www.fotr.org
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
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