This notice serves to inform the public that the Restoration Administrator, a court-appointed position selected by the Friant Defendants and Plaintiffs in the Settlement, has elected to cease Restoration Flows for much of the summer. Reclamation has reviewed and approved this schedule as being consistent with the Settlement and other criteria. Starting on June 3, no Restoration Flows will be released from Friant Dam until September 10. San Joaquin River flows at Gravelly Ford will be reduced to approximately 5 cfs, resulting in a dry river section from below Gravelly Ford to Mendota Pool. The section of the San Joaquin River from Sack Dam to Eastside Bypass will also be mostly dry. Releases from Friant Dam will now consist primarily of water releases for various holding contracts upstream of Gravelly Ford.
2021 is firmly in the Critical-High year type, which provides 70,919 acre-feet for Restoration Program purposes. The Restoration Administrator has determined that release of this volume of water is best delayed until late-summer to maximize cold water temperatures for reproducing spring-run Chinook salmon. Salmon start creating redds and laying eggs in mid-September, and these stages of the salmon’s life cycle are sensitive to high water temperature. Holding the water in Millerton Lake through the summer is the best way to preserve this allocation of water and the cold river temperatures needed for these critical salmon life stages.
For the third year in a row, the San Joaquin River Restoration Program has observed adult spring-run Chinook salmon returning to the river. These fish were reintroduced to the San Joaquin River, migrated to the Pacific Ocean where they resided for 2-3 years, and migrated back to the same river. So far in 2021, 74 adult fish successfully returned and are now holding in the waters below Friant Dam awaiting the first cooling days of late-summer to reproduce and complete their life cycle.
The Restoration Flow schedule has now been changed to the following: