Friant Not Included In River-Flow Proposal
A great deal of concern is being voiced by community, agricultural and water leaders along lower San Joaquin River tributaries about a State Water Resources Control Board proposal to place 35% of each river’s unimpaired flows into downstream flow requirements.
During a Sacramento hearing last month, however, all indications pointed to the focus of the flow requirements to apply to the San Joaquin River Tributaries only as the Board has taken into account the implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration Plan for the upper San Joaquin River
Water contractors in the Central Valley Project’s Friant Division have already agreed to contribute approximately 15-20% of their CVP supply – depending upon the type of water year – for salmon reintroduction and river habitat under the San Joaquin River Restoration Program and Settlement of litigation brought years ago by environmental and commercial fishing interests headed by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
TRIBUTARIES LEADERS UPSET
That is not the case along the tributaries, including the Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne rivers. The California Farm Bureau Federation’s Ag Alert reported that the State Board’s Sacramento hearing audience was packed by farmers, political leaders, small business owners and irrigation district officials who largely objected to the added flow proposal.
Severe economic and environmental consequences would occur in parts of the northern San Joaquin Valley, one speaker after another warned.
The plan being considered would limit diversions from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers to increase river flows and help boost recovery of fisheries in the San Joaquin River and its tributaries.
A “preferred alternative” presented to the board by its staff would retain 35% of the combined watersheds’ unimpaired, or natural, flows for use in the streams below various dams.
Water supplies for the Modesto, Turlock and Merced irrigation districts could be reduced by an estimated 15-25% annually from February to June. One million acres of farmland is irrigated from those rivers.