It is a testament to the nature of rivers in the arid western United States that this is news:
The San Joaquin River is flowing from Friant Dam near Fresno to the Delta….
That’s Alex Breitler writing today in the Stockton Record. If you follow the link, he gives a pretty good accounting of why this is a big deal, but I found an even better one in a delightful exchange on Wikipedia’s San Joaquin River talk page. First, here’s how the Wiki article describes the geography:
The river flows west to the Central Valley, where it is joined by the Sierra’s other great rivers and then at Mendota Pool flows north to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and then San Francisco Bay.
Parried nicely on the the talk page:
That vague and confusing section gives a false impression. In fact, except in rare flood years, there is no hydraulic continuity or “flow” to the delta or ocean. This is due to water diversions. Long stretches of the river are dry. Due to court battles, and related, some may wish to paint a pretty ecological picture not there.
Per Breitler’s article, for a shining moment, the original Wiki article is sorta right. But the talk page is clearly on to something more fundamental.