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San Diego Could Benefit From River Restoration

Audio

Aired 10/2/09

Water release from a dam in Northern California is breathing new life into a dry stretch of the San Joaquin River. Reviving the river will improve San Diego's drinking water too.

Water release from a dam in Northern California is breathing new life into a dry stretch of the San Joaquin River. Reviving the river will improve San Diego's drinking water too.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has worked to restore historic flows on the San Joaquin River.

For the first time in nearly 60 years water is now being released into the dry riverbed from the Friant Dam near Fresno.

The NRDC says the release is a critical step in restoring California's failing salmon industry.

Monty Schmitt is the NRDC's San Joaquin River Restoration Project manager.

"You guys get a fair amount of water for drinking water down in Southern California comes from the Delta," Schmitt says. "Adding fresh new flows of water to the Delta from the San Joaquin is going to contribute to improving water quality."

He says the agreement to provide fresh flows to the river is an example of how different groups can work together to resolve conflicts over water resources.

"The amount of water that's going to go down the San Joaquin will vary in year types," Schmitt says. "So in dry years there will be less, in wet years there will be more. But these are flows that are basically zero today. So it's a contribution of new water to the Delta."

Schmitt says this restoration of the river will improve conditions for fish and humans.

He says restoring water for salmon habitat will also mean increased water flows for downstream users, including San Diego.

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