Tuesday, November 29, kicked off the first day of the State Water Resources Control Board’s public hearings on a proposal to require higher instream flows on the lower San Joaquin River and its three major tributaries: the Merced, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne Rivers.
The San Joaquin River, the 2nd largest river in California, has been declared an “endangered river” by American Rivers for the severity of its problems. At times, 60-80% of the river’s water is diverted for other uses. What reaches the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is barely a trickle.
The State Water Resources Control Board has proposed updated regulations for the critical period of February-June that ensure a range of 30-50% of the fresh water is left in the San Joaquin River and its tributaries. This range is mostly an improvement over the status quo, but is below the amount (60%) that the Board itself has estimated would rebuild salmon populations in these rivers. It also falls short of the amount that the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have said would protect essential ecological functions in these rivers.
Last Tuesday, both farmers and fishermen turned out to Sacramento to urge the State Water Board to make changes to the plan. San Joaquin Valley farmers, stressed after years of historic drought, predicted ruin for their farms and communities if the State Water Board’s plan moves forward.
In fact, Mr. Johnson may have said it best, in explaining why the fight to save the San Joaquin River is so important: “It’s not only about jobs and money—there’s something about salmon that is part of our heritage, part of our culture…If the salmon go, what’s to stop the rest of the estuary from going?”
This is what Friends of the San Francisco Estuary is doing: We are working to help people understand the connection between a restored San Joaquin River (and other major tributaries) a sustainable salmon industry, a resilient Delta, and a thriving Bay ecosystem and economy.
Last Tuesday was also Giving Tuesday, and we’re excited to announce that we are more than one-fourth of the way toward our fundraising goal of $10,000 to help improve freshwater flows in the Bay-Delta Estuary! Please help us reach our goal by the end of the year, and donate today!
Want to help save the San Joaquin? Take action!