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EPA Awards $500,000 Grant to the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority for River Restoration Plan

Release Date: 1/14/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, U.S. EPA, (415) 947-4297

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has awarded a $500,000 grant to the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority to plan the restoration of the upper San Joaquin River.

     In partnership with the San Joaquin River Resource Management Coalition (RMC), the authority will use the grant to develop a vision and restoration plan for the river from the Friant Dam to the confluence with the Merced River.

     The RMC is a non-profit organization designed to provide a forum for landowners, agencies, and the public for activities along the San Joaquin River.

     Working with local residents and others interested in the river's future, the Exchange Contractors and RMC will use the grant to define scientifically sound restoration options and   through education and outreach   to build local and regional support for restoration activities.

     Planning will be conducted in two phases: The first step is an assessment, including review by an expert science panel, of opportunities and constraints for river restoration.  The second stage will put this information to use in planning restoration actions.

     The completion of  Friant Dam in the early 1950s afforded farmers in the east side of Friant's service area of the Central Valley Project fresh supplies of upper San Joaquin water but severely reduced river flow below the dam.

     Among the downstream users affected were farmers in the 240,000 acre exchange contract area who agreed to receive water transferred from northern California to replace San Joaquin supplies diverted at Friant Dam. Today, several reaches of the river within the restoration plan area dry up at times of the year and areas with flows suffer degraded water quality.