An environmental group based in Washington, DC is concerned about the health of the San Joaquin River, including its local tributaries, the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus.
The organization American Rivers has ranked the San Joaquin River as being among the 10 most “endangered rivers” in the country. It is the only waterway in California to make the list. The organization argues that the salmon and steelhead populations are on the brink of extinction. It lists the contributing factors as being agricultural diversions, poorly designed levees and groundwater overdraft. The group says these factors are making the watershed vulnerable to increasingly frequent severe droughts and floods.
The San Joaquin River, and it tributaries, help irrigate two million acres of farmland, generate 3,000 megawatts of hydropower, and provide drinking water to more than 4.5 million people. The group argues that it is time to “take long overdue action to restore the San Joaquin River” and plan for a more sustainable future.
It ranked #2 on the endangered list. Ranking number one is the Apalachiocola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin that stretches across Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Rounding out the top-five are the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and Maryland, the Smith River in Montana and the Green-Duwamish River in Washington.
American Rivers was founded in 1973 and touts that it has helped protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts and projects.