Central Valley

U.S. Senate panel OKs San Joaquin settlement

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Senate committee has approved legislation implementing a sweeping settlement to restore salmon to the San Joaquin River, moving the deal a step closer to reality.

The Senate Energy Committee approved the bill 15-7. Similar legislation passed a House committee last fall.

The legislation, which still must pass the full House and Senate, would implement a legal settlement that would return water to a dry 60-mile stretch of the San Joaquin River by 2009 and bring back Chinook salmon three years later.

The lawsuit stems from the opening of Friant Dam in 1949, which dried up portions of the river below the dam where salmon once ran thick.