Second Act for the San Joaquin River

On October 1 the first phase of a plan to restore the full length of the San Joaquin river was implemented, when engineers began releasing water from the Friant Dam outside Fresno into the artificially dry riverbed. By 2014, the river will flow freely to the Pacific Ocean. Currently it flows, then stops, then flows, then stops, then flows again. Ecosystems were dangerously disrupted to help sustain agriculture. I won’t pretend to understand the science of it all, but it seems what may have been brilliant at the time was more than mother nature should have had to bear. A consortium of the constituencies collaborated on the plan that gives the river a second act. They say no one is completely satisfied, so it probably is a good result.

A friend who studies geopolitics told me once that while it used to be all wars are about land, in our lifetime all wars will be about water. Well, certainly we have wars that are just about idiocy, but systemic conflict could turn on water rights and access, in support of farming, manufacturing, energy, and shipping. In short, wars about water for business, which means for money.

Water management, then, could equate to conflict management. Learn more about managing water in California from the Water Education Foundation. The site provides information about the San Joaquin river restoration project among other water topics. If you’ve deprived yourself and your family of a vacation this year for all the obvious reasons and are going a bit stir-crazy, surely you can rationalize indulging in a tour of the project, for two days and and one night in November. Check it out. Save your sanity by getting away; save civilization by experiencing the peaceful power of water management. LLII.

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