The Living River Speaker Series is an opportunity to expand your knowledge about the San Joaquin River. In the inaugural series, expert presenters will explore topics relating to the history and future of water in the Central Valley.  Grab dinner from the food truck on site, sip a beverage at cocktail hour, then enjoy the hour-long presentation held in the River Center Barn. 

Tickets are $10 each and include one drink (wine, beer, or non-alcoholic beverages available); season passes are available for $30.

Doors open for cocktail hour at 5:15 pm; presentations take place from 6:00 – 7:00 pm with time for Q&A after.  A local food truck will be on site from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.

A simultaneous education program for youth ages 5 – 12 will be led by River Parkway Trust programs staff on site at each event from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm. The cost is $5/child and advance registration is required.  Youth participants will go on a nature walk, play games, and do activities related to the presentation’s theme or the San Joaquin River while their parents/guardians enjoy the presentation.  Registration for the on-site youth program can be added while purchasing tickets using the links below.

Click here to purchase tickets or season passes.

Spring 2022 Living River Speaker Series Schedule

A Brief History of the Hydrology of the San Joaquin Valley with Bart Bohn

Thursday, February 10th, 2022 – 6:00 PM

This presentation will first describe the natural system of flows in the San Joaquin River and its many tributaries, then explore the changes that have been made with regard to surface storage behind 22 major dams and massive conveyance systems.  The resulting system and impacts will be graphically portrayed and discussed as we examine the new hydrology of the San Joaquin River from the Sierras to the Sea.

Bart Bohn retired as a Colonel in the Army Corps of Engineers, is a former CalTrans District Director, and served as a County CAO.  He holds a Master’s Degree in the Management of Water Resources.  Project experience includes flood control and salmon restoration on the Columbia River.

On-site food truck: Wing Your Bell

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The Tension Between Private and Public Water Rights in California with Tom Holyoke

Thursday, March 10th, 2022 – 6:00 PM

Historically, water rights in California and the American west have been equivalent to private property rights, usable for personal gain without consideration of the public interest.  In the last couple of decades, however, advocates have successfully asserted what can best be described as public (or collective) water rights, as seen in the use of the Public Trust Doctrine in the fight over Mono Lake. This talk explores the history of, and tension between, private and public water rights and how the latter may be used in the future to control the use of groundwater and restore the natural flows of California's rivers.

Tom Holyoke is Professor of Political Science at California State University, Fresno, where he specializes in interest groups, advocacy, and western water policy. He is also a faculty fellow at the California Water Institute at Fresno State.

On-site food truck: Ring Your Bell Teppanyaki

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Economic Impacts of Recent Droughts in the San Joaquin Valley with Josué Medellín-Azuara

Thursday, April 21st, 2022 – 6:00 PM

California’s agriculture and extensive water supply system have been challenged by recent years of drought, while consumptive water use amounts for agriculture are at historic highs.  This talk will address effects of drought on water sources, agricultural use, and consumers and the associated economic impacts, as well as considerations for water management in the San Joaquin Valley.

Josué Medellín-Azuara is an Associate Professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Merced, and Associate Director at both the Center for Watershed Science and UC Agricultural Issues Center. His professional experience includes environmental management positions for industry, and consulting and collaboration for non-governmental organizations. 

On-site food truck: Ring Your Bell BBQ

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Ecosystem Water with John Shelton

Thursday, May 19th, 2022 – 6:00 PM

Rivers are dynamic systems, with variations in quantity and timing of flows that play a critical role in sustaining native biodiversity and creating a balanced ecosystem.  Human alterations to these flows change the naturally established patterns that native species have adapted to, altering habitat dynamics and disrupting ecological equilibrium.  In addition, since ecological systems and social systems are entangled, we need to consider rivers as social-ecological systems. In this presentation we’ll explore the impacts of altered flow regimes on aquatic and riparian species, what it means to find a balance between human use and natural flows, and how it all relates to restoration efforts along the San Joaquin River.

John Shelton is the Executive Officer for the San Joaquin River Conservancy. Prior to joining the Conservancy, John served as a Senior Environmental Scientist for the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, where he specialized in water and salmonid issues and ecosystem restoration.  John’s career has also included work with the Department of Water Resources, Cal-Fed, and as staff to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Delta Vison.

On-site food truck: Grobak Sushi

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The River Parkway Trust will monitor all COVID-19 guidelines for gatherings and implement safety precautions as outlined by state and CDC guidelines.  While the River Center Barn features sliding steel doors that open to outdoor space and allow airflow, doors may be closed during the event due to weather or other considerations.  All attendees should be prepared to wear a mask while seated in the barn during the presentation.  Masks may be removed while eating or drinking.