Irrigating the Valley
The San Joaquin River is the backbone of the San Joaquin Valley. The valley is not only the nation's most agricultural area but it is also one of the entire worlds. Millions depend on the crops that come form this luscious valley. The river has gone through many drastic changes over its illustrious lifetime. Once it was a magnificent 350 miles long it is now one of the nation's ten most endangered rivers. The river once flowed with enough water to support steam ships and a salmon migration it now goes completely dry in some areas. The river does not have enough water to support itself any more and must take in water from various other places, such as the Pacific Ocean which while helping to refill the river also brings salt which soaks into the soil and can damage crops.
In order to understand how the river has changed and to discover what it once was, it is necessary to know its history. During the1860 steam boats were used to transport people and supplies along the San Joaquin. The ending of construction on the Mendota Dam happened in 1871. Beginning the 1880's farmers began to make canals and plant orchards of figs, grapes, and oranges. In 1900 more planning goes into making a reservoir to help irrigate farmers and the number of farming lands quadruples from 100,000 to 400,000. Southern California Edison Co. builds reservoirs, dams, and powerhouses to fuel southern California's need for power in the year 1912. During the years 1918 and 1920 a severe drought causes many farmers to abandon
land and pump ground-water to the point where there is not much left. Also the Central Valley Project is proposed and it includes the building of dams on the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers to help with the irrigation on 12 million farm acres across California, 10.3 million of which will be in the Central Valley. Between 1928 and 1934 in the midst of one of the worst droughts in years the state of...