In 1988, the Natural Resources Defense Council Coalition filed a claim under the Endangered Species Act, stating that the Friant Division’s water contracts lacked an Environmental Impact Statement and that Friant Dam was not releasing enough water to keep the fish below the dam in good condition, putting it in violation of California Fish and Game Code Section 5937.
This eighteen year old lawsuit was resolved in 2006 when a settlement was reached between the NRDC Coalition, Friant Contractors and the Bureau of Reclamation to restore the salmon habitat below Friant Dam. The two stated goals of the settlement are to restore self-sustaining salmon populations to the San Joaquin River (Restoration Goal) and to mitigate impacts on San Joaquin River water users (Friant) due to the restoring of the river flows (Water Management Goal). In March of 2009, federal legislation was passed implementing the settlement, in addition to providing water right and other protections for downstream third parties such as the Exchange Contractors’ landowners.
For more information please visit the San Joaquin River Restoration site: