By Nyah Toomes
In 2006, the federal government and environmentalists met to discuss reviving a 150-mile stretch of California’s second longest river, the San Joaquin River. The goal of the revival was to allow salmon to swim up the Nevada foothills once again.
The U.S Bureau of Reclamation announced that the river will be flowing year-round for the first time in more 60 years.
Even though the river will be flowing, bringing back the native salmon will take more time.
The restoration of the San Joaquin River was meant to be finished by 2012, but it is now predicted to be completed in 2022. The original cost of the restoration was $800 million dollars, but since the completion date has been pushed back it will now cost $1.7 billion dollars to restore the river.
The affair is being funded by Natural Resources Defense Council, Friant Water Users Authority, and the State of California.
Funding the project must be annually approved by Congress, which creates uncertainty to whether the restoration will continue to be funded, as projects of more importance may arise.
Since the settlement was put into place, water for farms has become even more scarce due to California’s change of climate. In the 2006 settlement, farmers had to give up 18 percent of the water stored behind the Friant Dam.
Before the Friant Dam was built in 1949, there were about a half-million salmon in the river. Although the dam helped agriculture, it ended the salmon migration.
Besides salmon migration, the restoration of the San Joaquin River is meant to redevelop the valley’s diminished groundwater supplies and will open recreation opportunities.
Salmon are a keystone species for the region, and because of them the San Joaquin River valley is one of the nation’s most fertile farming regions.
A design for construction of passages to promote salmon migration was halted in 2013 due to the ground sinking at a fast pace,which was a result of farmers pumping water to irrigate.