Program restarts Restoration Flows for fish

Program resumes Restoration Flows to protect burgeoning Threatened salmon population

The San Joaquin River Restoration Program Restoration Administrator has adjusted the Restoration Flow schedule for the San Joaquin River. On November 25, Friant Dam will increase releases to an additional 100 cfs flowing past Gravelly Ford (from 265 cfs to 365 cfs). This flow rate will be held through January 2023. Flows at Friant Dam will vary between approximately 550 cfs and 630 cfs to maintain the scheduled flow rate at Gravelly Ford 38 miles downstream of the dam. As a result of increased releases, those recreating on the river will experience deeper and faster river flows.

These adjustments to the Restoration Flow Schedule will produce higher flow throughout the Restoration Area and is intended to improve the survival of juvenile and yearling spring-run Chinook salmon as they make their way to the Pacific Ocean.

The Reclamation-approved Restoration Flow schedule is as follows:

Date Friant Dam Releases Restoration Flows at
Gravelly Ford
Through November 24 500 cfs 265 cfs
November 24 – January 31 550 – 630 cfs 365 cfs
February 1 – February 28 550 – 650 cfs 425 cfs

 

Due to unprecedented drought conditions and historic water rights, Restoration Flows were gradually reduced to zero in early April as Friant Dam began making higher releases to supply the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors at Mendota Pool. From early April through mid-July, Friant Releases ranged upwards of 1,700 cubic feet per second (cfs). Since mid-July, Friant Dam releases have ranged from 230 cfs to 290 cfs to meet Holding Contracts and did not extend past Gravelly Ford, 38 miles downstream from Friant Dam.Despite extreme drought conditions and lower flows since mid-July, river conditions were adequate to sustain a small cohort of adult spring-run Chinook salmon holding between Friant Dam and Gravelly Ford in Reach 1. Managing Millerton Lake’s cold water pool by conserving Restoration Flows for nearly three months benefited river temperatures directly downstream of Friant Dam and the survival of holding adult salmon. These fish are set to begin their final life stage — making redds (fish nests) and spawning this fall (September/October) — before a new cohort of juvenile salmon emerges this winter.The 2022 “water year” ends September 30 and will result in approximately 1,060,000 acre-feet of unimpaired inflow to Millerton Lake — a “Normal-Dry” year type — or 58% of average. Of this volume, 232,470 acre-feet was allocated to the Restoration Program. However, because of supply deliveries and channel capacity limitations, 101,076 acre-feet of unreleased Restoration Flows were made available for sale or exchange to Friant Contractors.For Information about Restoration Flows, please visit http://www.restoresjr.net/restoration-goal/restoration-flows/.  For the Restoration Administrator recommendations, please visit http://www.restoresjr.net/documentsreports/ra-recommendations/For additional information about the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, please visit http://www.restoresjr.net or contact Josh Newcom, Public Affairs Specialist, at 916-978-5508 or snewcom@usbr.gov.

Check out this video of the San Joaquin River reconnecting in 2022!