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Despite Drought, Government To Release Water For San Joaquin River Restoration

San Joaquin River
Ezra David Romero
Valley Public Radio / White Ash Broadcasting
The San Joaquin River Restoration Program aims to not only bring water back to a dry stretch of the river, but also bring back a long-extinct salmon run. (file phot)

Despite promises that El Nino storms will not bring an end to California's drought, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday that it will begin releasing more water into the San Joaquin River. The release is part of a program to restore the river's long-extinct salmon population on a 60-mile stretch of the channel that is typically dry.

Starting Monday, officials will release begin the release of a total of 2,380 acre feet of water from Millerton Lake. The restoration flows will be routed down the river past Gravelly Ford through February 29th. The release of water isn't expected to be large enough to reach the Mendota Pool. Officials say this year's flows will help biologists study the best way to capture and transport juvenile Chinook salmon.

At this point there aren't any restoration releases scheduled for later in the season, but that could change if storms bring the Sierra more rain and snow in the coming weeks. 

The restoration program is part of a legal settlement between farmers, the government and environmental groups, who sued saying Friant Dam and its associated canals illegally dried up the river, resulting in the extinction of the San Joaquin's Chinook salmon runs. 

The release is expected to start at around noon Monday February 15th. 

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of Valley Public Radio. During his tenure, he's helped lead the station through major programming changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the station's financial health. From 2010-2018 he served as the station's Director of Program Content. In that role, he also served as the host of Valley Edition, and helped launch and grow the station's award-winning local news department. He is a Fresno native and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.