San Joaquin River Restoration Begins

Fresno, CA                   |   Watch Video Above for Extended Coverage   |

The director of the Bureau of Reclamations restoration project, Jason Phillips said it's a historic day."Litigated 21-years ago, and a settlement was signed 3-years ago this month and it's pretty amazing we got to this point." Phillips said.

The initial goal is to just get water to the 60 mile long dry section of the riverbed, West of Fresno. The water being put in the river now amounts to about 350 cubic feet per second. Double what the channel has been getting. Over the next few years the flow will be increased to 4 thousand five hundred cubic feet per second. Enough, it's hoped to restore the Salmon run destroyed by construction of the dam in 1949.

But farm irrigators and their supporters are worried. They staged a small protest at Friant Dam.

Grower Dennis Prosperi expressed concern more water would be taken. "They're going to come after more and more unless this is stopped." He told a crowd of onlookers.

The Bureau of Reclamation figures diverting water back into the river will take up to 18 per cent of the water farmers have been getting. The legal settlement plan that lead to the restoration requires that much of the water diverted from farms will be cycled back to irrigation canals once it reaches the confluence of the Merced River.

Restoration of the San Joaquin River is seen as a key step in restoring the vitality of the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta.

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