The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources today released their Final Program Environmental Impact Statement/Report for the San Joaquin River Restoration.
The joint document describes the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of implementing the NRDC, et al., v. Rodgers, et al. Settlement that resolved more than 18 years of litigation related to Reclamation’s operation of Friant Dam near Fresno and established the San Joaquin Restoration Project (SJRRP). Reach 1 of the restoration project flows past Aquarius Aquarium Institute’s future Fresno Aquarium property.
The two agencies, one federal and one state, have opted for a preferred alternative (C1) that will utilize a plan intended to minimize seepage of the restored river’s water into farmers’ fields (see figures above), keep flows within Reach 4B1 (the original river bed as shown in blue in the boxed area on the map below – not the Eastside Bypass) at 475 cubic feet per second (cfs) minimum and adds a new pumping plant to increase capacity for river water recapture on the San Joaquin River below the confluence of the Merced River.
The Final PEIS/R document also discusses initiatives underway by Federal and State agencies that include proposals to expand recreation access and opportunities along the San Joaquin River. These initiatives would complement SJRRP.
One of these, America’s Great Outdoors, is a Federal initiative led by the U.S. Department of the Interior that has has identified projects in all 50 states in which the Federal government could partner with states or local communities through technical support and with its administrative authorities.
One of the America’s Great Outdoors projects is the San Joaquin River Blueway, a proposal of the San Joaquin River Partnership, a collaboration of 13 non-profit organizations. The vision for the San Joaquin River Blueway is to create a corridor of recreational access and important landscapes, with a system of recreational and natural areas linked by the river.
The San Joaquin River Blueway would provide access and opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, biking, wildlife-watching, picnicking, and hunting – all outstanding additional recreational opportunities for visitors to the future Fresno Aquarium.
About the San Joaquin River Restoration Project (SJRRP): The SJRRP is a comprehensive, long-term effort to restore flows to the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River (153 miles), restoring a self-sustaining Chinook salmon fishery in the river while reducing or avoiding adverse water supply impacts from the release of restoration flows.