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ACTION ALERT: Save San Joaquin River Gorge from New Dam (CA)

Posted: 10/08/2014
By: Megan Hooker

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is proposing to build another large dam on California's San Joaquin River just upstream of Friant Dam and Millertown Reservoir. If built, the Temperance Flat Dam would have significant impacts to the San Joaquin River Gorge, including drowning several Class III-V whitewater runs, such as Patterson Bend. The BOR took a major step forward in bringing the dam into reality when it released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project last month.

American Whitewater encourages you to make your voice heard! You can stand up for the San Joaquin by attending a public hearing next week or submitting public comment by October 27th.

If built, the Temperance Flat Dam would destroy a beautiful stretch of river. The Bureau of Land Management recognized the values of the San Joaquin River and recommended that a five mile segment be designated as Wild and Scenic in 2012. Numerous fish, wildlife, cultural, recreational, air quality and aesthetic values are at risk. In addition to drowning Class III-V whitewater runs, the proposed reservoir would flood:

  • an extensive trail system,
  • two public campgrounds,
  • an environmental education center,
  • a nature and cultural history museum,
  • sites that are significant to area tribes,
  • prime habitat for 24 sensitive, threatened, and endangered wildlife species, and
  • the unique Millerton Cave System.

Proponents claim that the project will benefit salmon, however these improvements depend on operation scenarios, and at best increase salmon by just 2.8%. Some operation scenarios actually reduce salmon by 0.6% to 13.1%, which is a loss on the investment that Californians have made in restoring salmon over the last 20 years.

Temperance Flat Dam is not the solution to California's extreme drought. Eight large dams and reservoirs already capture and divert most of the San Joaquin's flow, and the river is already over allocated. If built, the Temperance Flat Reservoir would only increase the state's water supply by 0.2% and store a modest amount of water in only one of every three years. This last figure is based on historical hydrological records, meaning less water will be stored if the drought continues. This little amount of water would come with a big price tag–the project would cost $2.6 billion to build and about $121 million to operate each year. If the Water Bond passes this fall, it will fund projects for water storage, which could include Temperance Flat. The project would also reduce electricity production because it would flood two powerhouses that are part of PG&E's Kerchoff Hydroelectric Project upstream.

How to Take Action!

Attend Public Hearings

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 1-3 p.m.,
Bureau of Reclamation offices
2800 Cottage Way, Rooms 1001-1002.

Thursday, Oct. 16, 6-8 p.m.,
Piccadilly Inn, 2305 W. Shaw Avenue.

Submit Comments

Comments are due by October 27th, 2014. You can send them via e-mail to:; online; or via regular mail to:

Ms. Melissa Harris, Project Manager
Bureau of Reclamation, Planning Division
2800 Cottage Way, MP-700
Sacramento, CA 95825

When presenting public testimony or submitting public comments, remember to talk personally about why this area is important to you.

For more information, you can download this fact sheet from Friends of the River, view the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Appendecies, and visit the Bureau of Reclamation's Temperance Flat News Release.

Thanks for taking action today!

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