The Bay Institute's World Water Day Spotlight: State of the San Joaquin River

Mar 22, 2011, 10:51 ET from The Bay Institute

NOVATO, Calif., March 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Spotlighting the San Joaquin River for World Water Day, The Bay Institute will host a special event at Aquarium of the Bay on Tuesday, March 22.  Leaders from The Bay Institute will be joined by Assemblyman Jared Huffman and Take Me to the River authors Coke & Joell Hallowell for discussions of restoration work on the San Joaquin River, as well as its importance to the entire Bay-Delta ecosystem and the individuals and communities that rely on it.  

"Permanently restoring the San Joaquin River – the most degraded river in the entire watershed – is not only one of the best hopes for the future of California's salmon runs in the face of climate change and other threats," said Gary Bobker, program director at The Bay Institute and a member of the team that helped negotiate the settlement.  "A living river is also a blessing for the people who live along the river, creating new opportunities for recreation and employment and improving the quality of people's lives."

From March through the summer of 2010, interim flow releases from Friant Dam connected the Upper San Joaquin River to the Delta and San Francisco Bay, providing the first intentional, non-flood connection since the construction of Friant Dam effectively dried up major stretches of the river in the late 1940s.  These initial releases brought the return of aquatic birds and other wildlife, in the first step toward the broad-based restoration of river functions and habitats, and provided the first of many new opportunities for local residents to use and enjoy the river.

Assembly member Jared Huffman is a champion for San Joaquin River restoration efforts and statewide water management reform. Prior to his election, Huffman worked alongside The Bay Institute as an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to set the stage for what eventually resulted in the historic settlement agreement with Friant water users in September of 2006.  This settlement was implemented by Congress and President Obama in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009.

Coke and Joel Hallowell, authors of Take Me to the River: Fishing, Swimming, and Dreaming on the San Joaquin, spent ten years asking fishermen, miners, Native Americans, hunters, farmers, environmentalists and others with deep connections to the San Joaquin, "What was your life like along the river?" The book, a collection of 33 of these accounts, captures rare snapshots of river history – including building a coalition to restore the river's health, sharing the very last meal before Friant Dam was built and the salmon runs stopped, and more.  

As specified in the settlement, salmon will be reintroduced to the San Joaquin at the end of 2012.  The fishery agencies are also planning experimental releases of juvenile salmon this spring.  In 2010, a few adult salmon already made the upstream journey despite the barriers to their migration into the upper river.

About The Bay Institute

The Bay Institute is the leader in protecting, restoring and inspiring conservation of the San Francisco Bay and its watershed -- from the Sierra to the sea. For nearly 30 years, The Bay Institute has been developing and leading model scientific research, habitat restoration, education and advocacy programs to preserve California's most important natural resource.  Learn more at

SOURCE The Bay Institute