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California Wat( 
Looking to the Future 


3 1175 01568 6424 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 
University of California Libraries 

Bulletin 160-87 

California Water: 
Looking to the Future 

Gordon K. Van Vleck 

Secretan' for Resources 
The Resources Agencj' 

George Deukmejian 


State of California 

David N, Kennedy 


Department of Water Kcsourci 


In general, California has abundant water resources, but they do not occur where peo- 
ple live and work, nor does precipitation occur when water is needed. To deal with 
these basic disparities, water agencies have built the most extensive "plumbing system" 
in the world. Local, regional, state, and federal agencies have constructed reservoirs 
and aqueducts throughout the State. 

None of the water projects was constructed easily or without controversy. From one 
perspective, the history of California is the history of arguing about water. More and 
more, however, the debates are changing from competition among water users to 
broader discussions of public concerns and preservation of common interests. 

Back in 1957, the Department of Water Resources published The California Water 
Plan (Bulletin 3). That report set forth an "ultimate" plan of potential water develop- 
ment, essentially demonstrating that the State's water resources are adequate to meet 
its "ultimate" needs. Bulletin 3 was followed by the Bulletin 160 series, published 
four times between 1966 and 1984 to update various elements of California's statewide 
water planning. These four technical documents examined then-current California 
water in considerable detail, outlining the Department's expectations of water supplies 
and water demand in coming decades. 

The present report differs significantly in approach from its predecessors. Taking a 
broad view of water events and issues in California, Bulletin 160-87 examines current 
water use and supply and considers at length how California can continue to meet the 
water needs of a continually growing population. The report also discusses several 
leading water management concerns, such as the quality of water supplies, the status 
of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and evolving water policies. Overall, Bulletin 
160-87 sets forth a wide range of information and views that we hope will aid water 
managers, elected officials, and the public. 

One final, cautious thought about the nature of planning reports is in order. A com- 
ment attributed to baseball's Casey Stengel is applicable to the projections herein: 
"Making predictions is very difficult, especially about the future." 


David N. Kennedy 

Director of Water Resources 





Urban Water Use 5 

The State's Population — 1980, 1985, and 2010 5 

Population Highlights 7 

Other Factors Affecting Urban Water Use 7 

Agricultural Water Use g 

Historical Irrigated Agriculture 8 

Future Agricultural Water Use 10 

Irrigated Land in San Joaquin Valley 11 

Other Major Water Uses 1 1 

Wildlife Refuges 1 1 

Outflow from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta 14 

Hydroelectric Power Generation 14 

Other Energy Production: Powerplant Cooling and Oil Recovery 14 

North Coast Wild and Scenic Rivers 14 

Other Natural Uses 14 

The Role of Improved Efficiency of Use in Reducing the Need for More Water 15 

Statewide Summary of Water Use 17 

Comparison of 1983 and 1987 Projections 18 


Storage Reservoirs 22 

Local and Regional Supplies 23 

State Water Project Supplies 24 

Higher Risk v. Firm Yield Operation 25 

Federal Central Valley Project Supplies 25 

Colorado River Supplies 26 

Interdependence of Supplies 27 


Ground Water Overdraft 31 

The Significance of Overdraft 33 

Ground Water Management 34 

CONTENTS (cont.) 



Statewide Overview 39 

Federal and State Water Projects 42 

SWP Wheeling and Purchasing of CVP Supplies 44 

The Delta Pumping Plant 44 

Offstream Storage South of the Delta: Los Banos Grandes Project 45 

Cachuma Reservoir Enlargement 46 

Cottonwood Creek Project 46 

Auburn Dam 47 

Ground Water Storage 47 

The Kern Water Bank 48 

Conveyance System Additions 48 

The East Branch Enlargement, California Aqueduct 49 

The Coastal Branch, California Aqueduct 49 

The Nacimiento Pipeline 49 

San Felipe Division of the CVP 50 

American River Aqueduct, East Bay Municipal Utility District 50 

The North Bay Aqueduct of the State Water Project 50 

The Mid- Valley Canal Project 50 

Interconnections and Water Sharing 51 

Water Transfers 52 

New Technology for Increasing Water Supplies 53 

Waste Water Reclamation 53 

Watershed Management 54 

Weather Modification 54 

Desalination 55 

Long-Range Weather Forecasting 56 

Deferred Projects 56 

Shasta Lake Enlargement 56 

Marysville Dam and Reservoir 57 

Glenn Reservoir Project 57 

Eel River Exports 57 

CONTENTS (cont.) 



North Coast Region 59 

Sacramento Valley 60 

San Francisco Bay Area 50 

Central Sierra Nevada and Foothills Region 61 

San Joaquin Valley 63 

Central Coast Region 63 

South Coast Region 64 


Reverse Flows 69 

Levees and Channels 70 

Fisheries and Diversions 72 

Water Quality 73 

Local Delta Uses 74 

The Bay-Delta Hearings 74 

Delta Planning 74 

Isolated Channel 77 

Federal Regulations 78 


Surface Water Quality 82 

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta 83 

Sacramento River 84 

San Joaquin River 84 

Colorado River 86 

Agricultural Drainage: A Long-Standing Problem 86 

Ground Water Quality 87 


Water Conservation in Urban Areas 91 

Landscape Water Conservation 91 

Water Audit and Leak Detection 92 

Household Retrofit Program 93 

Water Conservation in Agriculture 93 

California Irrigation Management Information System 94 

Laboratories on Wheels 94 

Agricultural Water Management Planning Assistance 95 

Other Water Conservation Activities 95 

Other Programs: Urban and Agricultural 95 

Water Conservation: the Future 97 

CONTENTS (cont.) 



The Public Trust Doctrine 99 

Wild and Scenic Rivers 100 

Mono Lake 101 

The Mono Lake Issue 102 

The Bay-Delta System 103 

Bay-Delta Issues 104 

The Salton Sea 105 

The Salton Sea Dilemma 106 

The Hetch Hetchy Project 107 


Recent Legislation 109 

Water Conservation 109 

Water Transfers 110 

Ground Water 110 

Water Quality 112 

Litigation 112 

Agreements 112 

The Coordinated Operation Agreement 112 

Suisun Marsh Preservation Agreement 115 

Fish Protection Agreement 115 

Federal Waterway and Wetland Protection 115 

Corps of Engineers' Permits 116 

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 117 

The Endangered Species Act 117 

Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act 118 

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act 119 

Other Federal Acts 119 


California's Population— 1980, 1985, and 2010 6 

Acreages of California Crops 12 

Regional Use of California's Developed Water Supplies, 1980, 1985, and 2010 16 

Apportionment of California's Colorado River Water Supply 28 

Ground Water Overdraft, 1985 Level of Development 33 

Use and Status of Present Supplies 40 

Meeting Water Needs to 2010 41 

Pesticide Monitoring Data at Representative Delta Sampling 

Stations, 1985 and 1986 85 

Statistics of Major Reservoirs and Aqueducts 123 

CONTENTS (com.) 



Urban Water Deliveries, Applied Water 5 

Regional Population Growth 7 

California Population, 1900-2010 7 

Per Capita Water Use by Selected Communities 8 

Acreage of Irrigated Land 9 

Irrigated Crop Acreage, 1985 Compared to 1980 10 

Major Hydrologic Regions 17 

Acreage Used to Produce Export Crops 19 

Average Annual Precipitation 21 

Average Annual Natural Runoff by Major Hydrologic Regions 22 

Historical Development of Reservoir Capacity 23 

Sacramento River Basin Flows 24 

SWP Water Supply Availability 25 

Service Areas Using Colorado River Water 26 

Sacramento River Streamflow Reconstructed from Tree Ring Measurements 29 

Ground Water Basins With Moderate or Intensive Development 32 

Basins With Active Recharge Programs 35 

Proposed Recharge Projects Under the Water Conservation and Water 

Quality Bond Law of 1986 36 

SWP Water Supply Capability With Existing Facilities and Planned Additions 43 

Los Banos Grandes Offstream Storage Plan 46 

Cottonwood Creek Plan 46 

Kern Water Bank Site 48 

SWP Coastal Aqueduct Plan 50 

Mid-Valley Canal Plan 52 

1869 Map of the Delta 68 

Flow Distribution, With and Without Reverse Flows 69 

Land Surface Below Sea Level, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta 71 

Major Delta Crops 75 

North Delta Alternatives 76 

South Delta Alternatives 77 

Wild and Scenic Rivers 101 

Major Storage Reservoirs and Conveyance Facilities 123 (Fold-out map inside back cover) 


Detailed Water Use and Water Supply Tables Bound separately 

(available in early 1988) 

fl-'- - 





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Then is probably no such thing as a 
"simple" water problem in California. 
Practically every individual issue involves 
conflicting facts and viewpoints. Neverthe- 
less, at the risk of oversimplification, the 
following observations summarize Califor- 
nia's water resources picture in 1987. 

mCCttntf the water needs of a growing population 
will involve a diverse range of water manage- 
ment approaches. Conventional reservoir devel- 
opment becomes more costly each year, and 
emphasis is now shifting to water conservation, 
water salvage, conjunctive use of surface and 
ground water, water banking, water transfers, 
water sharing, and waste water reclamation. 

'C7n roughly three out of four years, California's 
natural water resources, including rights to the 
Colorado River, are sufficient to meet all its 
water needs for the foreseeable future. Surface 
reservoirs and ground water basins provide sea- 
sonal regulation from wet months to dry 

Un dry years, Californians must withdraw water 
stored in reservoirs and ground water basins 
during normal and wet years, and they must 
practice more than usual conservation. How- 
ever, with proper development and manage- 
ment, water rationing should rarely be neces- 

There is every indication that California's popu- 
lation will continue to grow at substantial rates 
for the next few decades. In 1985, 26.1 million 
people were living in the State. By 2010, ac- 
cording to projections, this figure will have 
reached 36.3 million. Even an increase of this 
magnitude, however, is much lower than long- 
range forecasts made in the mid-1960s. 

T/u* aqueducts and reservoirs of the State Water 
Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project 
(CVP) now form an interconnected system that 
meets supplemental water needs throughout 
most of the State, reaching more than 75 per- 
cent of the State's population. Although local 
and regional agencies have built some of the 
State's major aqueducts, future needs for sup- 
plemental water beyond the capability of local 
resources will be met mostly through connec- 
tions to the SWP-CVP system. 

'^erv few large reservoir sites are still available 
for development. One of the most promising 
remaining sites is Los Banos Grandes Reservoir, 
an offstream storage project on the western side 
of the San Joaquin Valley near San Luis Reser- 
voir. Another major project now moving into 
development is the Kern Water Bank, a poten- 
tially very large ground water storage facility in 
Kern County. 

Un the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, many of 
the present-day problems associated with water 
transfers can be corrected with step-by-step 
improvements in existing channels, together with 
programs to strengthen Delta levees and restore 
Delta fisheries. Federal regulatory programs 

I The Klamath River drains much of wet and mountainous northwestern California, where rainfall in some places 
can average close to 200 inches a year. 

administered by the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers, which govern activities in wetlands 
and navigable waterways, will play a large role 
in determining which Delta improvements are 

fScvcral large water projects studied intensively 
in the 1960s and 1970s have been deferred 
indefinitely. These include the Enlarged Shasta 
Reservoir, the Glenn Reservoir, and the Marys- 
ville Reservoir. These projects are simply too 
expensive for agricultural water users under any 
foreseeable conditions. Nevertheless, the State 
should reassess these projects from time to time 
and keep its long-range options open. 

fScnU foothill, mountain, and other rural 
communities not served by the SWP or CVP 
have reached the limits of their developed 
supplies and are seeking to add to their water 
supply systems. However, few affordable pro- 
jects are available in these areas, and inability to 
finance additional facilities can greatly handicap 
small communities. Because storage in moun- 
tain and foothill ground water basins tends to be 
very limited, serious shortages can develop in 
one- or two-year dry periods. 

portion of the overdraft cannot economically be 
replaced by imported water and will simply con- 
tinue as one-time water mining until pumping 
costs become excessive. 

California f substantial ground water resources 
will more and more be used to augment avail- 
able surface supplies during extended, multi- 
year droughts. Through exchange agreements, 
large ground water basins can help meet both 
drought and short-term needs of most areas 
served by major aqueduct systems. To maintain 
long-term viability, arrangements should be 
made to replace the water in wetter years, 
thereby reducing or eliminating ground water 

S^vvroxiuiatclv 2 million acre-feet of present 
statewide water use is being met from long-term 
ground water overdraft. This is a reduction of 
600,000 acre-feet from the late 1960s. Some 
1.3 million acre-feet of overdraft is in the San 
Joaquin Valley, and the remainder occurs in 
various regions of the State. Most of the water 
associated with overdraft is used for agriculture. 
Some of this overdraft will eventually be offset 
by imports of excess water from the Delta. A 

v\Cii'Ht changes in agricultural economics have 
caused a leveling-off in irrigation water use for 
the first time in more than 50 years. Although 
the future for agriculture is difficult to assess, it 
seems unlikely that agricultural irrigation will 
expand much beyond the recent 9.7-million- 
acre peak level of use. Earlier projections 
assumed a future peak of 10.2 to 10.5 million 
acres. Since irrigated agriculture uses about 80 
percent of the State's developed water, a lesser 
future need than was projected in the past 
would have a marked impact on the State's 
overall water picture and would make control of 
overdraft more manageable. 

Jp? number of factors are causing irrigation effi- 
ciency to increase throughout the State. These 
include higher water costs, higher irrigation 
labor costs, drainage problems, and competition 
among farmers. Since a great deal of the "ex- 
tra" water presently used for irrigation is reused 
downstream, greater efficiency does not auto- 
matically make the water supply go farther. 
The two principal areas in which increased effi- 
ciency will have statewide benefits are the Impe- 
rial Valley and western San Joaquin Valley. 

wtt the last few years, long-simmering agricultural 
drainage problems have come to the forefront of 
water management issues, particularly on the 
western side of the San Joaquin Valley. Plans 
to achieve salt balance in the soil by exporting 
drainage to the Delta have been shelved because 
of concerns over elements in the drain water 
that are toxic to fish and wildlife. Extensive 
investigations are under way to cope with drain- 
age problems. It is clear that an important step 
in reducing drainage impacts will be improved 
irrigation efficiency. 

'•TVatcr quality protection programs are in a state 
of flux, shifting from traditional concerns with 
prevention of biological pollution to heightened 
concern about contamination with toxic sub- 

stances. New monitoring techniques are reveal- 
ing that some of the State's water resources are 
contaminated with very small but possibly signifi- 
cant concentrations of both natural and man- 
made toxic substances. The ability to measure 
small concentrations has outstripped our under- 
standing of the significance of these concentra- 
tions. Recent passage of Proposition 65 will, it 
is hoped, provide an impetus for the research 
necessary to resolve these issues. Federal, State 
and local agencies are continuing programs to 
clean up existing sites and reduce such contami- 
nation in the future. 

jyJs population and water use increase, more 
pressure is placed on fish and wildlife resources 
and scenic values. More water is now being 

allocated for fish and wildlife than was consid- 
ered necessary in earlier years. Proposals for 
such increased requirements must be evaluated 
on a case-by-case basis to determine their 
impacts and overall reasonableness. A number 
of new water allocations have been successfully 
negotiated between water interests and those 
representing fish and wildlife interests. 

Caltjornias water policies are evolving year by 
year as new statutes, court decisions, and agree- 
ments become effective. Potentially, one of the 
most far-reaching policies will involve implemen- 
tation of the Public Trust Doctrine, which pro- 
vides that water rights decisions made years ago 
can be revised by regulatory bodies and the 
courts, in light of new conditions. 

'r-*:^- P-. ^' 


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Cdltfornias developed water supply — currently 
about 32 million acre-feet per year — is used to 
irrigate crops, meet household needs, maintain 
landscapes, support wildlife, satisfy manufacturers' 
cooling and processing needs, and control salt- 
water intrusion. In addition, this supply supports 
instream uses such as generating electricity, main- 
taining streamflows for fisheries, feeding lakes and 
streams for recreation, and supporting navigable 
waterways for shipping. Of the total amount of 
water used by the agricultural and urban sectors, 
83 percent goes to agriculture and 17 percent to 
urban use. 

Although substantial, the amount of water needed 
to satisfy each of these uses is significantly offset by 
widespread reuse involving stream rediversions and 
ground water pumping. In 1980, for example, total 
agricultural and urban applied water use in the Sac- 
ramento River basin was about 10.2 million acre- 
feet. Yet, because the basin draws part of its sup- 
ply from surface water returned to streams by other 
users, and part from ground water supplies perco- 
lated from irrigated fields, the basic water supply 
required that year was only 7.4 million acre-feet, 
with 0.7 million acre-feet of the applied water 
flowing into the Delta. Furthermore, water used in 
the basin that flowed back to the Sacramento River 
and into the Delta helped maintain flows that sup- 
ported fish and pushed back salt water entering 
from the Pacific Ocean through San Francisco Bay. 

Urban Water Use 

As population increases, so does urban water use. 
Although California's communities have instituted 
effective water conservation programs — and are 
expected to continue refining and expanding them 
— the magnitude of the State's projected urban 

growth will continue to increase the need for addi- 
tional water supplies. California's population is 
projected to increase about 39 percent by 2010; its 
urban applied water demand is expected to rise by 
32 percent in that same span of time. 


Applied Water 


*. 6- 

1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 

The State's Population — 1980, 1985, and 2010 

As the nation's most populous state, California 
added 2.4 million people between 1980 and 1985, 
a 10-percent increase. This gain represented 22 
percent of all U.S. growth in that period. Natural 

California continues to grow. Our 198S population of 26.1 million is projected to reach 36.3 million by 
2010, a 39-percent increase in 25 years. 

increase (births minus deaths) accounted for 
1,143,000 more people, while net migration 
(in-migration minus out-migration) accounted for 
1,264,000 more. Average increase per year over 
the five years was 481,000, or 2 percent. 

Two-thirds of this growth has taken place in ten 
counties, largely those along southern coastal Cali- 
fornia. The South Coast region grew by the great- 
est number of people, 1.25 million, while the Colo- 
rado River region experienced the greatest rate of 
growth, 19 percent. 

California's biggest one-year increase since World 
War II occurred between July 1985 and July 1986, 
when 623,000 people were added to the State's 
population. Natural increase accounted for 
267,000, the most in the State's 137-year history. 
Net migration accounted for another 356,000 peo- 

ple, the largest one-year migratory growth since the 

Between 1985 and 2010, California's population is 
projected to increase by 10.2 million people. That 
will bring the State's total to 36.3 million (2 million 
more than was projected just four years ago in Bul- 
letin 160-83). The South Coast region, with a 
projected increase of 5 million people, is expected 
to gain the most, followed by the Central Valley 
(Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys combined) 
with a total increase of 2.8 million. The big jump 
in Central Valley population is expected to result 
from (1) continuing expansion, dispersion, and di- 
versification of industry; (2) increasing appeal of 
affordable Central Valley housing; and (3) growing 
public acceptance of long commutes to the San 
Francisco Bay area over Altamont Pass and other 
routes from San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. 

California's Population— 1980, 


and 2010 

In millions 










Region ^^^^_ 









San Francisco Bay 









and Central Coast 

South Coast 








Sacramento River 








San Joaquin River 








and Tulare Lake 

Colorado River 








Remaining Regions 
















Source: California 

Department of Financefl 




The Colorado River region, which stands out 
sharply from other regions with a 91 -percent in- 
crease by 2010 (0.3 million people), is growing 
around Palm Springs and in the Coachella Valley, 
as retirees continue to convert second homes to 
permanent residences or move into new develop- 

Population Highlights 

Growth has been slower in the San Francisco Bay 
and Central Coast regions than elsewhere in the 
State. In San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, a 
softening in the market for the region's high tech- 
nology products and a shortage of moderately 
priced housing have slowed the growth rate, and 
the decline in the lumber industry has slowed 
growth in Siskiyou, Humboldt, and Mendocino 
counties. In San Francisco County, 15 straight 
years of population decline was turned around in 
1980 by a sizable increase, which has continued. 


1 1985-2010 







• 40- 



i 30- _ ^ 





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1900 1920 1940 I960 1980 



In the South Coast region, Los Angeles County has 
undergone accelerated growth from increased mi- 
gration from Asia and Latin America, plus natural 
increase, which accounts for 60 percent of the 
gains. Growth in neighboring Orange County is 
attributable to expansion in the aerospace/electron- 
ics and service industries; however, high housing 
costs, diminishing availability of land, and conges- 
tion are contributing to a slowdown in population 
increase. The major growth areas are in San Ber- 
nardino and Riverside counties, which are situated 
within the commute zone for the metropolitan Los 
Angeles area. Kern County's turnaround from a 
declining 1960s population to growth in the 1980s 
has been achieved by the incentives of relatively 
low living costs and the area's proximity to the Los 
Angeles metropolitan market area. 

Other Factors Affecting Urban Water Use 

Several significant trends are developing in relation 
to urban per capita water use in California. Con- 
struction of more multiunit housing, the general 
reduction in residential lot sizes, the increasing 
number of residences built since enactment of legis- 
lation requiring low water-use fixtures, and the 
multitude of local agency water conservation pro- 
grams in effect are all tending to reduce per capita 
water consumption. Other conservation trends in- 
clude increased plantings of low water-using land- 
scapes and more efficient watering. In addition, 
regulatory controls on waste water discharge are 
promoting increased recycling of industrial process 

At the same time, however, offsetting factors are 
also at work. Most significantly, much of the new 
water use in the State's coastal regions (where 80 
percent of California's population lives) is occurring 
in the warmer inland coastal areas where develop- 
able land is more abundant. In general, per capita 
water use is substantially higher in these inland ar- 
eas than it is near the ocean. For example, the 
coastal city of Pacifica, located 8 miles south of 
San Francisco, is covered much of the time by a 
cooling fog layer and has a per capita water use 
average of 80 gallons a day. A few miles 




I I I I 

100 200 300 400 

Agency Supplied Water, 1983-85 daily average 
including commercial and industrial deliveries 

City dwellers are becoming more water-conscious, and 
public agencies are helping by encouraging the use of 
drought-resistant landscaping and requiring low water- 
use plumbing fixtures, 

away in San Bruno, on the eastern side of some 
rolling coastal hills, the climate is generally warmer 
and per capita water use is 120 gallons a day. 

Across the bay from San Bruno, just beyond an- 
other range of hills, the weather is warmer still, 
and residents of Concord, Pleasant Hill, and Wal- 
nut Creek use an average of 155 gallons of water a 
day. Thus, even with effective water conservation 
measures, regional average per capita water use 
often rises because of the warm climate where most 
of the new large-scale development is taking place. 

Agricultural Water Use 

The amount of water used by agriculture is deter- 
mined by the extent of irrigated acreage, the rela- 
tive proportions of types of crops grown (the crop 
mix), and irrigation efficiency. Each of these fac- 
tors has contributed significantly to the continually 
changing level of water use. 

Historical Irrigated Agriculture 

Just before World War II, irrigated acreage in Cali- 
fornia totaled about 5 million acres. Rapid growth 

occurred immediately after the war. By the late 
1950s and on through the 1960s, the rate of in- 
crease slackened. Then, during the 1970s, the rate 
picked up again. There has been a leveling off, 
and even a slight decline, since 1980. The 1980s 
have experienced large fluctuations, with the 1985 
acreage down slightly from the 1980 level. 

The figure, "Acreage of Irrigated Land," presents 
data for 1930, 1940, 1950, 1960, 1967, and 1972, 
and for each year from 1980 through 1985. Al- 
though a straight line connects data points before 
1980, irrigated acreage fluctuated from year to year 
during this time, but not as drastically as during the 
1980-1985 period, described below. Over the 
50-year period from 1930 to 1980, the average 
increase in irrigated lands amounted to more than 
100,000 acres a year. 

These were the changes that occurred after 1980: 

1981 — 9.7 million acres under irrigation (highest 
total in California history). 

1982 — Total irrigated acreage dips 200,000 acres 
to 1980 level. 

1983 — Total irrigated acreage drops 900,000 
acres, due to the impacts of farmland flooding and 
the federal Payment-In-Kind (PIK) program, un- 
der which farmers were compensated for not plant- 
ing certain field crops. 


1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 


The Central Valley produces crops of the widest diversity 
and highest value of any comparable region in the world. 

1984 — Total irrigated acreage rises 800,000 acres; 
despite continuance of the PIK program, field crop 
acreage increased, as well as fruit, nut, and vegeta- 
ble plantings. 

1985 — Acreage drops 200,000 acres to a total of 
9.2 million acres. (The 1985 Farm Bill's set-aside 
program signed up 500,000 acres, but some of the 
land had already been out of production under 
previous programs, and fruit, nut, and vegetable 
acreage continued to increase.) 

The mix of crops planted in California changes 
yearly. Large changes in acreages of annual crops 
such as dry beans, canning tomatoes, and rice can 
occur in response to fluctuating market conditions, 
adverse weather or flooded land at planting time, 
or federal crop control programs. Acreages of per- 
ennial crops also change frequently, though usually 
at a slower rate than those of annual crops. Even 
with perennials, however, in recent years large- 
scale changes have occurred over relatively short 
periods — for example, the dramatic increase in 
wine grape plantings and the sharp reduction in 
peach tree acreage. 


Small Grain 


Misc. Field 



Subtropical Orchard 

Sugar Beets 


Field Corn 

Deciduous Orchard 




Double Crop 
Set Aside Program 

-500 -400 -300 -200 -100 100 

(1000 Acres) 


400 500 

Future Agricultural Water Use 

To make projections of future water use, the 
Department of Water Resources' planners usually 
project future statewide acreage figures for specific 
crops. Crop acreage projections are traditionally 
based on estimates for future markets for Califor- 
nia-produced food and fiber — markets influenced 
by such factors as State and national population 
figures, food consumption patterns, foreign trade, 
crop yields, federal farm policies, and California's 

ability to compete with other producers, both 
nationally and abroad. Although in the past it has 
been difficult to predict precisely how influential 
each of these factors would be, the experts have 
generally agreed on the direction of trends, and the 
resulting crop acreage projections have been ac- 
cepted as reasonable. Today, however, economic 
uncertainties are more pronounced than in the 
past, and views differ widely over the magnitude 
and direction of the major forces that will shape 
crop markets in the coming decades. 


In view of these uncertainties, our present estimate 
of future agricultural water use is based not on 
specific future crop acreages, but rather on the 
assumption that net water use by agriculture will 
continue at about the same level it reached in 1980 
when 27 million acre-feet was used statewide. 
Some regional adjustments have been made, how- 
ever, to reflect urban encroachment onto irrigated 
land in the South Coast region, and reductions in 
the use of developed water supplies are expected to 
occur because of increased agricultural water con- 
servation. In many cases, new urban development 
will use about the same amount of water as the 
crops it replaces. 

In all probability, the actual level of agricultural 
water use in California will be different in 2010 
than it was in 1980. According to some estimates, 
the level might be higher. On the other hand, 
reaction to recent economic conditions leads other 
forecasters to predict decreased agricultural water 
use in 2010 in some regions of the State. Of par- 
ticular concern to farmers are the extremely high 
costs of developing new surface water supplies. At 
any rate, it does not appear that the basic water 
management issues addressed in this report — 
especially ground water overdrafting in the San Joa- 
quin Valley — would differ significantly within the 
range of reasonable estimates of agricultural water 

Bulletin 160-83, the prior report in this series, 
shows a projection of 10.2 million irrigated acres in 
2010, requiring 28.7 million acre-feet of water — 
a projection that still stands within the range of 
possible outcomes. While the 1.7-million-acre- 
foot difference between the current projection for 
2010 and the one shown in Bulletin 160-83 could 
alter the need to develop additional water supplies 
in California, it should be observed that nearly 75 
percent of the increase in agricultural net water use 
forecast in Bulletin 160-83 was expected to be ob- 
tained by increasing ground water overdraft, mostly 
in the San Joaquin Valley. The difference between 
the two projections does not eliminate the need for 
new urban water supply initiatives. 

Irrigated Land in San Joaquin Valley 

The San Joaquin Valley is the largest single block 
of irrigated land in California. A total of about six 

million acres of irrigable land overlie usable ground 
water. In addition, there are about 300,000 acres 
of urban land. 

About 4.7 million acres (80 percent of the 
irrigable land) are developed for irrigation. Most 
of the remaining acres either (1) have soil salinity 
problems that would require substantial amounts of 
chemical additions, extensive leaching, and, in most 
cases, installation of subsurface drain systems to 
make them productive, or (2) have hardpan soils 
with very low fertility that would require massive 
subsoil ripping efforts, as well as large applications 
of fertilizer. 

Changing economic conditions have increased the 
costs of treatments necessary to bring these mar- 
ginal lands to the point of economic crop produc- 
tion. Because of the high costs, it seems likely that 
very little development of additional irrigated land 
will take place in the near future. Also, with the 
projected population increase of about 70 percent 
by 2010, the resulting urban development would 
take significant amounts of currently irrigated land 
out of production, likely offsetting whatever new 
irrigated land development does occur. 

Other Major Water Uses 

Wildlife Refuges. The ten national wildlife refuges 
and four State wildlife management areas in the 
Central Valley, which provide a third of the State's 
wetland habitat for waterfowl, have been sustained 
for years by surplus surface water, ground water, 
and irrigation runoff from fields. As the State's 
demand for fresh water has increased, the quantity 
and quality of water available for these wildlife 
areas have been greatly diminished during years of 
below-normal rainfall. Thus, wildlife refuges need 
additional water supplies of suitable quality. 

Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, along 
with the Department of Water Resources, the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Depart- 
ment of Fish and Game, and the California Water- 
fowl Association, began examining alternative 
sources of water for these refuges, as well as for 
waterfowl areas served by the Grasslands Water 
District. These areas are estimated to need a water 
supply of more than 500,000 acre-feet annually. 
At present, average annual water deliveries total 
about 380,000 acre-feet. 



Over 1,000,000 " 


Alfalfa V 


Cotton ^M 


Irrlaated oasture 



Wheat V 






Corn, field 
Rice ^ 


Tomatoes, processing 

100, 000-200, ooo"" 


English walnuts 



Sugar beets 






Potatoes ^^^^^^^^H 



Blackeye beans 

Lemons ^^ 


Prunes ^^^^^^^^^^^| 






Safflower ^^^^^^^^^^^M 




Pears ^^^^^^F 
Peas ^^^^^^f 


Green beans 

Pink beans 


Honeydew melons 


Bell peppers 

Kidney bean 




Lima beans. 


Rice, wild 


Lima beans. 











Corn, sweet 


Tomatoes, fresh market 








Garbanzo beans 

Sweet potatoes 







Tangerines ^^^^^^^^^^^ 

Fewer Than 5.000 Acres 








Mustard ( 

or seed) Rapine 







Choy sum 


Olaiiieberries Rhubarb | 







Citron melons 




Bitter melons 






Coliard g 


Jerusalem artichokes 

Passion fruit Santa Claus melons | 

Biacl< walnuts 

Corn, crazy 










Bote choy 

Crenshaw melons 


Peas, Chinese Shallots 




Peas, southern Small red beans 

Broad beans 




Small white beans 

Brussels sprouts 



Peppers, chili Snap beans | 

Cabbage, Chinese 


Lima beans, green 

Persian m 

elons Soybeans 

Canary melons 




Persimmons Sudan grass hay | 





Sweet sorghum 




Pinto bear 

s Swiss chard 






Casaba melons 




Pomegranates Taro root | 

Castor beans 



Macadamia nuts 




Fava beans 

IVIandarin oranges 

Prickly pears Thyme | 










Tomatoes, cherry 












Fodder beet 





Natomas Central Mutual Water District operates this irrigation system on the Sacramento River just north of Sacramento. Water 
pumped from the river (1) is piped to an irrigation ditch leading to 4,000 acres of cropland. Excess water drained from fields 
returns by the North Drainage Canal to a sump (2). In summer, all this water is pumped (3) back to the ditch, supplemented 
and diluted with more water from the river, and reused. In winter, precipitation runoff from fields is collected and discharged to 
the river (4). This system, in use for at least 50 years, illustrates reuse systems widely employed in the Central Valley. 

Outflow from the Sacramento-San Joaquin 
Delta. One of the major uses of Central Valley 
water supplies is to provide the fresh-water outflow 
needed to meet the Delta water quality standards 
set forth in State Water Resources Control Board's 
Decision 1485, the purposes of which are discussed 
in Chapter 7. On the average, 5 million acre-feet 
of water must flow out of the Delta each year to 
meet the current standards. This amount of water 
is not included under Net Water Use (table on 
page 16). On an average annual basis, 13 million 
acre-feet of fresh water flows into San Francisco 
Bay. The actual amount varies from less than 4 
million acre-feet in extremely dry years to more 
than 60 million acre-feet in the wettest years. Re- 
lease of stored spring runoff from upstream reser- 
voirs is necessary to meet the Delta outflow re- 
quirements in summer months of most years. 

North Coast Wild and Scenic Rivers. Several 
North Coast rivers have been designated as wild 
and scenic to protect their natural free-flowing 
state. On the average, 17.8 million acre-feet of 
water from parts of the Klamath, Trinity, Eel, 
Smith, Van Dozen, Salmon, and Scott rivers are in 
this category. Flows of these designated rivers are 
not included under Net Water Use (in the following 

Other Natural Uses. The largest single use of 
water in California, amounting to some 60 percent 
of the total supply from precipitation, is for native 
vegetation and evaporation. About 114 million 
acre-feet a year is consumed by these uses. 

Hydroelectric Power Generation. In view of cur- 
rent economic conditions and electrical energy 
needs, there are few if any prospects for additional, 
major, single-purpose hydroelectric projects in 
California. In the early 1980s, however, a large 
number of applications were filed for permission to 
develop small hydropower generation facilities. 
The filings were prompted by passage of a federal 
law requiring electric utilities to purchase power 
from small energy producers at rates equal to the 
cost of the most expensive power the utilities 
produce or obtain from other sources. 

Then, shortly afterward, oil prices dropped and 
interest in developing these small-hydro facilities 
waned. Because hydro plants do not consume 
water, they do not impinge on the total quantity of 
water available for other uses. Yet, their operation 
does affect the flows of rivers and streams, so pro- 
posals for new facilities receive close scrutiny in 
many quarters to determine potential impacts on 
downstream water users. 

Other Energy Production: Powerplant Cooling 
and Oil Recovery. Statewide, the amount of fresh 
water used for powerplant cooling and oil recovery 
processes is estimated to be considerably less than 
100,000 acre-feet per year. Although either of 
these two industrial activities may have significant 
water supply requirements at certain locations, nei- 
ther is expected to be a major factor in future re- 
gional water management plans. 

With a linear-move irrigation system, a long tine of low- 
pressure sprinklers is slowly and continuously moved the 
length of the field. Although they are expensive, these new 
systems offer good opportunities for relatively precise appli- 
cation of water to field and truck crops. 


The Role of Improved Efficiency of Use 
in Reducing the Need for More Water 

Irrigation efficiency is calculated as the percentage 
of applied water that evaporates from soil and plant 
surfaces and is transpired by a crop. In response 
to various economic constraints, California farmers 
are improving the effectiveness of water application 
each year by preparing fields more carefully, oper- 
ating existing irrigation systems with increasing 
efficiency, improving irrigation scheduling, and 
adopting new methods of watering, such as drip 
irrigation, for some applications. 

Efforts by the Department of Water Resources and 
other agencies to promote irrigation efficiency are 
described in Chapter 9. Irrigation efficiency is 
expected to increase in the future for the same 
reasons it has done so in the past: higher costs of 
crop production and continuing improvements in 
the design and operation of irrigation systems. In 
addition, growing concern over drainage needs and 
the use of agricultural chemicals will increase the 
attention given to improving irrigation efficiency. 

Considering that much excess applied agricultural 
and urban water is reused, the extent to which 
water conservation can delay or reduce the need 
for additional water supplies depends primarily on 
how much it can reduce the volume of water cur- 
rently flowing into the ocean and other salt sinks. 
If the amount of water lost to evapotranspiration 
were reduced, water supply needs would also 
decline, but evapotranspiration by plants cannot be 
reduced, as a rule, without lowering crop yields. 
Moreover, efforts to reduce evaporation from open 
water conveyance systems by converting ditches to 
pipelines and eliminating natural riparian vegetation 
(thus further reducing evapotranspiration) are often 
not feasible because of high costs or are not 
acceptable because these actions would destroy 
valuable wildlife habitat. These were the conclu- 
sions of a recent multiagency, multidisciplinary 
two-year study of irrigated agriculture. The Central 
Valley Water Use Study was sponsored by the Uni- 
versity of California's Experiment Station and the 
Department of Water Resources. The findings 
were published in Irrigation Water Use in the Cen- 
tral Valley of California (1987). 

Water is applied to crops in various ways, some old and 
some new. Improving irrigation techniques is a continuing 
process. For special applications, sprinkling systems are 
most efficient, and for others, drip irrigation works best. 

Furrow irrigation is the most widely used system in Cali- 
fornia. Its efficiency depends on how it is designed and 
managed, as well as the type of soil in which it is oper- 


Based on these results and other studies, the great- 
est savings in agricultural water in California would 
be achieved by improving irrigation efficiency on 
lands overlying shallow saline ground water in the 
San Joaquin Valley and by reducing the excess irri- 
gation water that flows from the Imperial Valley to 
the Salton Sea. The possible use of water salvaged 
in the Imperial Valley is currently the subject of 
negotiations between the Imperial Irrigation District 
and The Metropolitan Water District of Southern 
California. Use of the salvaged water by MWD 
could result in reduced need for State Water 

Project supplies. For the San Joaquin Valley, it 
was assumed the savings would be put to use in the 
valley, in effect reducing ground water overdraft. 

In the urban sector, the greatest amounts of water 
would be saved in the coastal metropolitan areas, 
wherever excess applied water flows into the ocean 
(including sewage outfall sites). Some lesser 
savings will likely occur in areas where conservation 
programs influence property owners to change land- 
scaping vegetation to low water-use plant varieties. 

Regional Use of California 

's Developed Water Supplies, 1980, 1985, and 2010 

In 1,000s of acre-feet 











1985 2010 







San Francisco Bay 
and Central Coast 





1,360 1,600 







South Coast 





3,120 4,020 







Sacramento River 





630 840 







San Joaquin River 
and Tulare Lalce 





920 1,400 







Colorado River 





250 410 





- 3,930 


Remaining Regions 





310 440 










5,860 6,590 8,710 

red to the intal<e to a city 
ound sources, as in self- 
it of reuse that occurs, t 

860 960 1,020 42,840 40,460 43,220 

's water system or a farm headgate; water 
developed supplies; and water supplied to a 
lis term overstates the supply of water needed 

APPLIED WATER is the quantity of water delive 
diverted from a stream or pumped from undergr 
wetland for wildlife. Because of the large amou 
for a large region. 











1985 2010 







San Francisco Bay 
and Central Coast 





1,310 1,530 







South Coast 





2,820 3,590 







Sacramento River 





500 680 







San Joaquin River 
and Tulare Lake 





530 760 







Colorado River 





170 270 







Remaining Regions 





260 360 










4,980 5,590 7,190 

ranspiration (the amount 

water distribution syster 
ig whether an area needs 

1,830 1,680 1,680 

of water tal<en up by pi 
n that cannot be recov 
more water. 

34,150 34,220 35,620 

ants, transpired by them, 
ered, and outflow leaving 

NET WATER USE is computed by adding evapot 
and evaporated from the soil), the losses from a 
an area. This estimate is essential in determinir 


statewide Summary of Water Use 

As shown in the tabulations of applied water and 
net water use in California for 1980, 1985, and 
2010 (opposite page), net water use is less than 
applied water because it takes into account the 
large amount of reuse that commonly occurs. As 
discussed previously, the basic assumption regarding 
agricultural net water use in 2010 is that it will be 
about the same as the 1980 level, reduced to 
account for urban encroachment onto irrigated land 
and the impacts of water conservation. These 
reductions amount to about 590,000 acre-feet 
between 1980 and 2010. Although the 1985 level 
of agricultural applied water use was significantly 
lower than in 1980, net water use by agriculture 
did not change nearly as much. This was due pri- 
marily to (1) the relatively large reduction in the 
acreage of field crops in 1985, some of which, such 
as rice, have significantly lower irrigation efficien- 
cies than do other crops, and (2) the substantial 
reductions in water applied for rice production 
needed to reduce the quantity of certain chemicals 
in drain water flowing into the Sacramento River. 

"Urban" net water use generally reflects population 
increases. As discussed in this chapter, however, 
water conservation, the location of new urban 
development, and the changing characteristics of 
urban communities also influence future water use. 
The increase in projected urban water use is sub- 
stantial in all regions, totaling about 1.6 million 
acre-feet statewide between 1985 and 2010. 

"Other" net water uses include water used in public 
wildlife management areas, at nonurban public 
parks, and for powerplant cooling and enhanced oil 
recovery. It also includes consumptive losses from 
water conveyance systems. 

The Colorado River region shows a 340,000-acre- 
foot decrease in total net water use between 1985 
and 2010, which is attributable to agricultural water 
conservation. All other regions show water use 
increases, led by the South Coast (600,000 acre- 
feet) and followed by the San Joaquin River and, 
Tulare Lake (460,000 acre-feet), the Sacramento 
River (350,000 acre-feet), the San Francisco Bay 
and Central Coast (190,000 acre-feet), and the 
remainder of the State (140,000 acre-feet). 














Comparison of 1983 and 1987 Projections 

Projections contained in this edition of Bulletin 160 
differ from those presented in Bulletin 160-83 in 
two essential ways. 

■ Agricultural net water use projections are now 
lower because, with the current great uncertainty 

regarding the future of the agricultural economy, no 
increase was projected above the level of water use 
attained in 1980. 

Population growth projections are now greater, 
reflecting the rapid rise in the number of people in 
California in the past five years. 

The Agricultural Economy: 

Recent Problems and Prospects for the Future 

since the early 1980s, California has shared a de- 
pressed agricultural economy with the rest of the 
United States. Dramatic changes in the areas of 
financial management, international competition, and 
the relation of crop supply to demand have contrib- 
uted to this economic downturn. 

Credit Is the llfeblood of agriculture. For years, 
bankers have loaned money to farmers who have 
used the money to buy equipment and to plant crops 
that, once sold, provided funds to repay the loans. 
Between 1974 and 1981, California farmland values 
rose at an Inflation-adjusted annual rate of about 
7 percent, and the outloolc for agriculture was gener- 
ally optimistic. Lenders, sharing this optimism, en- 
couraged farmers to make capital Investments, and 
some farmers went deeply into debt to purchase 
land, machinery, and other farm-related assets. 
Between 1975 and 1983, the ratio of U.S. farm debt to 
net income (Income after costs) almost quadrupled. 

This rosy picture began changing in 1980 when infla- 
tion-adjusted Interest rates rose to five percent — 
from a low of about one percent in the 1970s — and 
farm Income began to decline. Consequently, the 
value of farmland as a source of income and as a 
speculative investment was dramatically reduced, 
and the ensuing financial crisis resulted in the 
putting up for sale of farms that would not otherwise 
have been offered, pushing farm values even lower. 
In California these values were hit hardest In the San 
Joaquin Valley, where from 1983 through 1986 the 
Inflation-adjusted value of field crop land fell 48 per- 

In 1981, foreign exports accounted for about 
one-fourth of California's gross farm income and 
30 percent of its harvested acres. Four years later, 
exports dipped to one-fifth of the State's gross farm 
income and the harvested acreage figure dropped to 
20 percent, primarily because of the federal govern- 
ment's crop support policy that set relatively high 
prices for U.S. wheat, rice, corn, and cotton. This 
policy had two adverse effects on agriculture: It 
allowed foreign competitors to gain a share of the 
world agricultural market at California's expense, 
and it gave some competitors an income cushion 
that many of them used to implement advanced 
farming methods and thus increase the volume of 
crops on the world market. The rise In the dollar's 

value against other currencies was another reason 
behind the decline of U.S. farm exports. As a result 
of the dollar's surge, our farm exports became more 
expensive than those of other producers. Foreign 
policies of many countries also influenced agricul- 
tural markets through trade barriers, such as quotas 
and tariffs. 

Greater quantities of foreign agricultural products 
have entered U.S. domestic markets In recent years, 
encouraged by subsidized, low-cost foreign produc- 
tion, U.S. government-supported domestic pricing, 
and recent advances in transportation technology. 
From 1972 to 1982, worldwide farm output rose 
25 percent, assisted by a 33-percent agricultural- 
production increase in some of the less-developed 
countries such as Thailand, India, Bangladesh, and 
China. Moreover, for the past several years, politi- 
cal forces have prompted many nations to strive for 
self-sufficiency in food production. Since storage 
facilities are often not available, excess crops are 
exported and frequently sold at prices that are lower 
than the costs of production, thus adding to the 
oversupply in the world's agricultural market. 

At the same time, large foreign-debt repayment 
obligations and falling export revenues have made it 
impossible for some third world nations to buy as 
much California farm produce as they have In the 
past. To get by, these countries have exported 
more of their own farm products — sometimes sell- 
ing them at a loss to obtain the hard cash they need 
to pay the interest on their mounting foreign debts. 

In general, the state of oversupply resulting from 
these debilities has forced crop prices down world- 
wide. Because these same factors have forced U.S. 
government-support prices down as well, even sub- 
sidized growers in this country have been adversely 

California Agriculture's Long-Term Outlook 

In speculating about the future prospects of Califor- 
nia agriculture, the key question is how well will Cali- 
fornia farmers be able to compete in the world 
market. In light of recent changes in market compe- 
tition for State-grown crops, varying assumptions 


As a consequence, this edition of Bulletin 160 pro- 
jects that, compared to Bulletin 160-83 projections, 
annual net water use in 2010 for agriculture will be 
2.0 million acre-feet less and for urban applica- 
tions, 0.3 million acre-feet greater. The cumula- 
tive effect is a statewide net water projection of 

1.7 million acre-feet less than that previously 


If the revised projections hold true, their major 

impacts will be (1) less ground water overdraft than 

stated in earlier estimates and (2) greater future 

water needs in coastal urban areas. 

can be made regarding the direction the agricultural 
market will take and the competition California grow- 
ers will face. In fact, the range of possibilities Is 
more diverse than at any time since this Bulletin 160 
series began in 1966. 

A crucial factor influencing this market competition 
is the unit cost of California production compared to 
like costs in other states and countries. To Its 
advantage, California has ready access to techno- 
logical improvements; it also has large farms and 
skilled managers who are capable of initiating com- 
plex and costly improvements relatively quickly. 
Moreover, California has climate and soils that are 
well suited to take maximum advantage of such im- 
provements, and Its excellent food processing and 
transportation Industries also contribute to its com- 
petitive advantage. 

Meeting this challenge will require California farmers 
to react quickly to take full advantage of all opportu- 
nities the market presents. Collecting and accu- 
rately analyzing market information will be critical to 
correct planning, processing, and marketing deci- 
sions. Furthermore, vertical Integration — the Inte- 
grated management of a specific crop from farm 
production through marketing — will become more 
important in the future. Taking these steps would 
enable California agricultural producers to effectively 
target products for foreign and domestic markets. 
Currently, more than three-fourths of California's 
farm exports go to Pacific Rim nations (Japan, South 
Korea, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Taiwan). 
Aggressive marketing, combined with growing per 
capita Income In these countries and California's 
strategic geographic location, may enhance the 
State's competitive marketing position. As with all 
international market forecasts, however, this outlook 
is sensitive to trade barriers, onerous tariffs, and 
restrictions that (In many cases) are the subjects of 
current International negotiations. 

Future price-cost relationships, the value of the U.S. 
dollar, changes in farm productivity, government 
farm-subsidy programs, controls on the use of agri- 
cultural chemicals, soil drainage needs, and the 
availability of affordable water supplies are all factors 
that, alone or en masse, will significantly Influence 
the extent of production and sales of specific com- 

On other fronts, progress in removing some trade 
barriers, coupled with advances in communications, 
data processing, and transportation, have made 
International financial and commodity markets al- 
most as accessible to U.S. producers as domestic 
markets. This wide-reaching development is both 
good and bad for California agriculture. While mar- 
keting opportunities for U.S. producers are greatly 
expanded, similar opportunities for foreign competi- 
tors are also enhanced. Furthermore, increased 
production potentials elsewhere in the world — 
arising from government support of production 
through selective trade policies and subsidy pro- 
grams — suggest that the challenge of competing in 
the world trade market will increase in the years to 







1978 1980 

1 982 



■<^^IM^ ■ 



{7w the midst of California's many water debates, 
the question is often asked: "Does California have 
enough water?" The answer, in simple terms, is 
yes. Unlike its neighbor, Arizona, California has 
enough natural water resources in most years (in- 
cluding its Colorado River allotment) to meet its 
foreseeable needs. But this important fact must be 
qualified by observing that, because of the geo- 
graphic distribution of the State's water resources, 
Californians have found it necessary to build vast 
water storage and conveyance systems. The history 
of California is intertwined with the development of 
more than 1,300 reservoirs and thousands of miles 
of canals and pipelines. 

California's surface water supplies are derived from 
an average annual statewide precipitation of nearly 
2 feet, ranging from almost nothing in desert areas 
to more than 100 inches in mountainous North 
Coast regions. About 60 percent of this annual 
precipitation is evaporated and transpired by native 
trees, brush, and other vegetation. The remainder 
comprises the approximately 71 million acre-feet of 
streamflow that drains from the land in an average 
year. Annual inflow from Oregon streams contrib- 
utes an additional 1.4 million acre-feet, and water 
imported from the Colorado River has added an- 
other 4.8 million acre-feet a year to California's 
supply in recent years. 


StatewideAy^. _23* 

The Warm Springs project in Sonoma County is the only new reservoir built in California in the 1980s with a 
gross capacity of more than 50,000 acre-feet. 

Almost 29 million acre-feet, or 40 percent, of the 
average statewide runoff occurs in the North Coast 
region. Rivers there are several mountain ranges 
and hundreds of miles away from middle and 
southern areas of the State where the need for ad- 
ditional water supplies is greatest. Consequently, 
other more accessible California rivers have been 
tapped for water supplies, while the flows of North 
Coast rivers contribute only one water diversion to 
the rest of the State. In fact, many rivers in that 
region are now protected by State and federal laws 
that forbid major export water developments. 

Although water supplies in the Sacramento River 
region have already been extensively developed, 
this stream system still offers the only sizable op- 
portunities for additional surface water development 
in California. Some potential water development 
projects are discussed in Chapter 5. 



5 10- 




^ cf 



/ i? "0^ 

Although average runoff figures are instructive to 
water planners and of interest to the public, the 
scale of much of California's water development 
system has been dictated by the extremes of 
droughts and floods. Throughout the State's his- 
tory, the range of recorded water flows has varied 
dramatically. For example, California's 71-mil- 
lion-acre-foot average annual runoff derives in part 
from an all-time annual low of just 15 million 
acre-feet (1977) to an all-time annual high of 
more than 135 million acre-feet (1983) — a 
120-million-acre-foot range. In February 1986, in 
just 10 consecutive days, nearly 8 million acre-feet 
of water flowed past the city of Sacramento in the 
Sacramento River and the Yolo Bypass. This was 
more than half the total amount of water that 
flowed in all the State's rivers during the entire 
1976-77 water year. 

California's water records show that extremely dry 
periods can last several years. The seven-year 
drought of 1928-1934 established the criteria com- 
monly used to plan the storage capacities of large 
Northern California reservoirs. In fact, many res- 
ervoirs built since 1934 are designed and operated 
to maintain planned deliveries through a repeat of 
that dry period. 

Recognition of the infrequency of droughts such as 
that of 1928-1934 has resulted in recent years in 
consideration of operating water supply projects in 
a less conservative manner than is now used. This 
approach, discussed in the section titled "Higher 
Risk V. Firm Yield Operation," would permit in- 
creased water deliveries in average and slightly dry 
years. However, it can increase the risk of running 
short of water during a severe drought if no provi- 
sion is made for other long-term storage. 

Storage Reservoirs 

In all, the State has jurisdiction over the safety of 
1,188 dams and reservoirs with a gross storage ca- 
pacity of 19.7 million acre-feet. There are also 
125 federal dams and reservoirs in and adjacent to 
California, with a combined storage capacity of 
22.9 million acre-feet. Taken together, these 
1,313 reservoirs can store nearly 43 million acre- 
feet of water. 



(Reservoirs of 50,000 ac/ft or greater) 


PRE- 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 
1940 -49 -59 -69 -79 -86 

The adjacent figure shows the historical develop- 
ment of reservoir capacity in California for reser- 
voirs with gross storage capacities of 50,000 acre- 
feet or more. The role of local agencies in water 
resources development is apparent. Locations of 
major reservoirs built by local, State, and federal 
agencies are shown on the fold-out map at the 
back of this report. 

Local and Regional Supplies 

Local surface water supply projects (as distin- 
guished from State or federal projects) meet about 
one-third of California's water needs. In each 
decade of California's statehood, local agencies 
have undertaken projects to meet their water 
needs. Initially, surface water development con- 
sisted mainly of direct stream diversions; however, 
early on, these proved increasingly inadequate to 
meet the needs of growing urban and agricultural 
areas. By the turn of the century, California's 
population was L5 million, and its irrigated crop- 
land totaled nearly 2 million acres. 

Only 20 years later, in 1920, more than 4 million 
acres were being irrigated, and increased ground 
water pumping was required to meet escalating 
water needs. During this 20-year period, many 
irrigation districts were being formed with the finan- 
cial ability to construct storage reservoirs needed to 
regulate surface runoff. Hydroelectric powerplants 
were also being built at a rapid pace, further regu- 
lating streamflow to the benefit of downstream irri- 
gators. Moreover, urban areas were arranging for 
additional water supplies, with Los Angeles com- 
pleting its aqueduct from Owens Valley in 1913. 

The 1920s and 1930s saw the development of pro- 
jects to meet regional needs. The East Bay Mu- 
nicipal Utility District finished its aqueduct from 
Pardee Reservoir on the Mokelumne River in 1929; 
the city of San Francisco built the Hetch Hetchy 
Project; and The Metropolitan Water District of 
Southern California built the Colorado River Aque- 
duct during this period. 

Following a slow period of building activity by local 
water agencies, construction flourished in the 1960s 
and 1970s in response to the State's increasing 
need for power and water. Several large projects 
were built by local water agencies, some assisted 
financially by contracts with electric utilities for the 
purchase of hydropower. In addition, utility com- 
panies made substantial additions to their 
hydropower-generating systems. 

The result of more than a century of development 
by local water agencies is the capability of providing 
10 million acre-feet of surface water each year for 
urban and agricultural users. 

Droughts between 1918 and 1925 drew attention to 
the fact that local surface and ground water sup- 
plies could not keep meeting growing water needs 
in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. 
Since the water development and delivery projects 
needed to meet these needs were too costly and 
complex for local agencies to undertake, the State 
produced plans in 1931 for the Central Valley Pro- 
ject, later built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, 
and initially proposed elements of the State Water 
Project, later built by the Department of Water Re- 


state Water Project Supplies 

Dependable water supplies from State Water Pro- 
ject facilities are now about 2.3 million acre-feet 
per year. About half this water comes from Lake 
Oroville on the Feather River; the rest is developed 
from surplus flows in the Sacramento-San Joaquin 
Delta, some of which are re-regulated in San Luis 

The amount of surplus Delta water supplies is af- 
fected by the volume of outflow required to meet 
water quality standards in the Delta established by 
the State Water Resources Control Board. Existing 
standards are specified in Decision 1485, adopted 
in 1978. In accordance with the Board's continu- 
ing jurisdiction, standards will be revised in 1990, 
following hearings conducted during the next three 
years. Estimates of necessary Delta outflow have 
varied widely since planning for the SWP began. 
Early estimates were much lower than they are to- 
day, and dependable supply estimates for the initial 
SWP facilities were at one time much higher than 

the present 2.3 million acre-feet. The changes are 
due both to increased outflow required for fisheries 
protection and to the fact that operational experi- 
ence has demonstrated that simply keeping salinity 
levels at a given objective requires more fresh water 
than was expected. 

Outflow requirements stated in Decision 1485 vary, 
according to annual hydrologic conditions, and are 
based on annual flow measurements compiled in 
the Sacramento River - Four Rivers Index. The 
graphs below show natural runoff totals for the 
streams included in the index: the Sacramento 
River above Bend Bridge near Red Bluff; the 
Feather River at Oroville Reservoir; the Yuba River 
at Smartville; and the American River at Folsom 
Reservoir. The upper graph depicts criteria estab- 
lished for Decision 1485. Eleven percent of the 
82-year period represented was classified as "criti- 
cally dry," and 18 percent more was characterized 
as "dry" — including two years in the "below- 
normal" range (1930 and 1932) but classified as 
dry because they followed critically dry years. 





1980 Rule Curve 
Operating Criteria ~3 

Irfii YleW Operating uritena 

(used in long-range planning) 

10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 
Percent of Years In Which Available 

Close examination of the 82-year sequence (lower 
graph) reveals no definite wet- or dry-period cy- 
cles. (Studies have, however, shown some correla- 
tion of dry periods to the 22-year sun-spot cycle.) 
The last 12 years have been remarkably varied, 
including the driest and fourth driest years, and the 
wettest and third wettest years since 1906. No year 
in the 12-year period has been close to the long- 
term average. With 1987 a critically dry year, it 
would be highly desirable to know whether 1988 
will also be dry. However, past attempts at fore- 
casting indicate low reliability could be expected in 
predicting what type of year 1988 will be. 

Higher Risk v. Firm Yield Operation 

The measure of the SWP's delivery capability was 
founded on the concept of "firm yield" operation. 
Defined as "minimum project yield" in SWP water 
contracts, firm yield is the dependable annual water 
supply that can be made available without exceed- 
ing specified allowable reductions in deliveries to 
agriculture during extended dry periods. Recently, 
DWR has worked with the major contractors to 
increase the SWP's average annual deliveries. This 
is done by relaxing its minimum reservoir carry- 
over storage requirements to permit increased deliv- 
eries in all but the driest years. 

The availability of SWP water supply is illustrated 
by the "rule curve" procedures shown below, with 
total annual demand set at 3.27 million acre-feet. 
The solid line in the figure represents the amount 
of water available under the criteria set for the 
1986 curve. (Each year's curve is distinct.) In 
nearly half the years, the 1986 rule curve would 
have increased SWP annual delivery capability — 
often by as much as 350,000 acre-feet. In a fifth 
of the years, deliveries would have been approxi- 
mately 120,000 acre-feet less than under the more 
conservative criteria. In 1986, operation under the 
rule curve would have reduced deliveries in ex- 
tremely dry years by as much as 250,000 acre-feet 
because reservoir storage would have been drawn 
down to increase deliveries in the preceding years. 
Nevertheless, average dry period deliveries during a 
repeat of the 1928-1934 drought would have been 
about the same with either of these criteria. 

Federal Central Valley Project Supplies 

With its present facilities, the Central Valley Pro- 
ject's net water supply capability beyond 2010 is 
projected to be about 9.45 million acre-feet a year, 
assuming full use of water by present and projected 
water contractors. The CVP's northern portion — 
consisting of development on the Sacramento, 
American, and Trinity Rivers — will, when fully 
developed, contribute 7.7 million acre-feet of this 
supply for use in the Delta service area. New 
Melones, Friant, Hidden, Buchanan, Sly Park, and 
Sugar Pine reservoirs will contribute the remaining 
1.75 million acre-feet. The estimate for the north- 
ern CVP system is based on coordinated operation 
with the SWP to maintain Delta water quality stan- 
dards in accordance with the Coordinated Opera- 
tion Agreement. 

The magnitude of the CVP's projected total water 
supply capability depends on reuse of initial deliver- 
ies. For example, after Northern California grow- 
ers use CVP water to irrigate their crops, excess 
water is returned to the Sacramento River and 
counted again as project yield available for rediver- 
sion or for meeting Delta outflow requirements. 
Thus, if expansion of CVP water use in the Delta's 
upstream service areas were not to occur as pro- 
jected, or if improved irrigation efficiency reduced 


the volume of return flows, the CVP's water deliv- 
ery potential could be less than anticipated. 

Elsewhere in the CVP system, 800,000 acre-feet of 
dependable Friant Reservoir supplies are delivered 
to California growers each year, along with 667,000 
acre-feet of nonfirm supplies. The nonfirm sup- 
plies are used conjunctively with ground water in 
the Friant-Kern Canal and the Madera Canal serv- 
ice areas. New Melones Reservoir's dependable 
water supply potential of 210,000 acre-feet per 

year is committed to service areas in San Joaquin, 
Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Calaveras counties. 

Colorado River Supplies 

California's basic apportionment of Colorado River 
supplies is 4,400,000 acre-feet per year, plus not 
more than half of any excess or surplus water. 
Because of recent wet hydrologic conditions on the 
Colorado and because Arizona is not yet taking its 
full apportionment, California has been able to use 
an average of about 4,800,000 acre-feet in recent 


Yuma Project 


years. After the Central Arizona Project is in full 
operation in the early 1990s, Arizona is expected 
to fully use its basic apportionment of 2,800,000 
acre-feet. Barring an extended drought, California 
will continue to be able to divert more than its 
basic apportionment for the next few years. After 
that, even though the upper Colorado River basin 
states are not expected to use their full apportion- 
ments until as late as 2020, the availability of 
surplus flows will become less likely. This is 
because past apportionments of the river's supply 
considerably exceed the present estimated 
long-term average runoff. However, a series of 
wet years could create a surplus that would provide 
water management opportunities. 

Interdependence of Supplies 

California communities and farmlands have grown 
by augmenting inadequate local water supplies with 
extensive aqueduct systems to import water from 
areas of abundance. As the map in the back of 
this report shows, the South Coast region has three 
distinct sources of imported water, the San Fran- 
cisco Bay area has four sources, and the San 
Joaquin Valley has two. Over the years, steps have 
been gradually taken to interconnect these systems 
in various ways, and a number of sharing and 
exchange arrangements have been worked out, 
making it possible to alleviate a temporary shortage 
in one area by transferring surplus supplies. For 
example, during the 1976-1977 drought, through 
agreements and exchanges, Marin County was 
supplied with water by virtue of increasing Southern 
California's use of supplies from the Colorado 
River, more than 500 miles away. 

In situations where a loss of supply occurs, the 
impact may be felt in a distant region of the State. 
In the near future, the reduction of California's 
allotment of Colorado River water (due to the 
startup of the Central Arizona Project) will place 
additional demands on the SWP, which derives 
most of its supplies from the Delta and the Feather 
River. Likewise, any reductions in Mono Basin 
diversions on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada 
would create an additional need to supplement this 
supply from sources in the Central Valley. 

Highlights of Surface Water 
Development in California 

1850 California admitted to the Union. Population: 

1887 First irrigation district act passed (Wright 

Act); provides taxation and bonding powers. 

1900 California's population reaches 1 .5 million; 
total Irrigated land nears 2 million acres. 

1905 Pacific Gas and Electric Company Incorpo- 
rates; begins water and power partnership In 
Northern California. 

1913 Los Angeles Aqueduct from Owens Valley is 

1920 California's population rises to 3.4 million; 
total irrigated land surpasses 4 million acres. 

1921 Recent drought and extensive ground water 
depletion prompts the Legislature to author- 
ize studies that led to "Report to Legislature 
of 1931 on State Water Plan" (1930). 

1923 East Bay Municipal Utility District Is formed. 

1928 State constitutional amendment Is adopted 
forbidding waste or unreasonable use of 

1928 The Metropolitan Water District of Southern 
California is formed to bring Colorado River 
water to the South Coast. 

1929 Mokelumne River Aqueduct begins deliveries 
to East Bay cities. 

1930 California's population reaches 5.5 million. 

1934 Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct begins water deliver- 
ies to San Francisco. 

1938 All-Amerlcan Canal Is completed to serve 
Imperial Valley. 

1944 Shasta Dam is completed. 

1947 San Diego's first water import pipeline links 
with Colorado River Aqueduct. 

1960s Decade of extensive multiple-purpose dam 
and reservoir construction by local water 
agencies, largely financed by the sale of 
hydro power to electric utilities. 

1968 Oroville Dam Is completed. 

1980 California's population reaches 23.8 million; 
irrigated land totals 9.5 million acres. 

1987 The North Bay Aqueduct and the San Felipe 
Project are completed. 



Agency and 
Description ot 
Service Area 


1 Palo Verde 

2 Yuma Project, 

3 Imperial 

Coachella Valley 
Water District 

Palo Verde 
(mesa lands) 

4 Metropolitan 
Water District 

5 Metropolitan 
Water District 

6 Imperial 

Valley Water 

Palo Verde 
(mesa lands) 


Beneficial Consumptive Use 
in acre-feet per year 

Per California 



After Start of 
Central Arizona 

> 3,850.000 



• Includes Indian water rights and miscellaneous present per- 
fected rights totalling 58,000 acre-feet that reduce Metro- 
politan's entitlement to 492,000 acre-feet. 

•* Plus not more than one-half of any excess or surplus water 
in the lower Colorado River. 

Tree Rings Tell Tales of Wet and Dry Years 

Trees have spaces between their growth rings that 
reveal much about the past — particularly about how 
wet or dry the seasons were long before people be- 
gan recording such facts. Water planners are Inter- 
ested In what trees have to tell us about historical 
weather cycles and rainfall patterns because the 
more they know about the past the better they can 
evaluate ways of meeting water needs In the future. 

With correlation techniques, tree rings can be used 
to reconstruct streamflow. This graph shows the 
results of recent studies of the Sacramento River 
near Red Bluff, conducted at the University of 
Arizona's Tree-Ring Research Laboratory. The stud- 
ies, which focused on samples taken at 16 sites In 
Oregon and Northern California, reconstructed more 
than 420 years of Sacramento River basin runoff. In 
the graph, the lower line shows mean flows, recon- 
structed from tree ring data; the upper line shows 
mean flows measured and recorded since 1872. The 
two lines correspond well, with the 1928-1934 drought 
standing out particularly well as the most prominent 
dry period since 1560. The Tree-Ring Lab studies 
concluded that: 

Water conditions in the basin over the past 100 
years have been wetter than the 420-year average. 

The basin's highest and lowest flows over the 
past 420 years have occurred since the late 1800s, 
although there have also been other periods of pro- 
longed high and low flows in the past. 

The timing of low flows In the Sacramento River 
basin coincides to some extent with the timing of low 
flows in the Colorado River basin, though not to 
low-flow patterns in basins In the eastern United 

Tree growth does not appear to react as notice- 
ably to shorter droughts, such as the record two- 
year drought of 1976-1977. 

A more recent study of tree rings in Santa Barbara 
and Ventura counties, conducted by scientists at 
the University of California, Santa Barbara, confirms 
that wet and dry periods in the Central Coast or 
Southern California regions often do not coincide 
with those in Northern California. Results of this 
same study indicate that the major dry periods for 
these regions occurred before formal hydrologic re- 
cord keeping began. 

Just how helpful tree-ring data will be In future Cali- 
fornia water planning efforts is uncertain, but such 
data do put the State's more recent wet and dry pe- 
riods in perspective for water resource planning. 


Pencil-thin cores taken by a coring tool allow scientists to 
study tree rings without damaging the tree. Growth rings are 
most evident in conifers. In the Sacramento River basin 
studies, core samples were taken from Jeffrey, sugar, and 
ponderosa pines and western juniper. 


Interpretation of tree rings can indicate past precipitation 
and streamflow. The rings illustrate a tree's growth, each 
marked by a darker band. Wet years generally produce wide 
rings; dry years, narrow rings. 

1680 1920 1960 




C7« absolute terms, California's ground water re- 
sources are much larger than its surface water res- 
ervoirs. Statewide, nearly 400 ground water basins 
store about 850 million acre-feet of water. By 
comparison, the State's surface reservoirs hold 
about 43 million acre-feet of water. However, as 
outlined below, much of the ground water is not 
available for use. 

On the average, 16.6 million acre-feet of ground 
water is pumped yearly, meeting about 39 percent 
of California's applied water requirements for mu- 
nicipal, industrial, and agricultural uses. The 
State's ground water basins range in size from hun- 
dreds of acres to millions of acres. Depending on 
their location, however, size alone may not reflect 
their importance. 

Much less than half the ground water in storage 
lies close enough to the earth's surface to be 
pumped economically. The amount of water 
pumped from storage each year is usually a small 
percentage of the total in storage. Since Califor- 
nians rely heavily on ground water when surface 
water supplies dwindle, it is fortunate that much of 
the State's municipal, agricultural, and industrial 
development has occurred on land overlying large 
amounts of good-quality ground water. In fact, 
some major urban areas and many rural communi- 
ties (especially mountain towns) obtain all their 
water from wells. 

Natural replacement of water pumped from the 
ground in California is augmented by engineered 
replenishment systems. Natural recharge comes 
from rainfall, snowmelt, and stream seepage, which 
return an average of 5.8 million acre-feet of water 

annually. Another 7.4 million acre-feet seeps back 
into ground water basins after being used for agri- 
cultural, municipal, and industrial purposes. In 
addition, 1.1 million acre-feet of imported surface 
water and 300,000 acre-feet of seepage water from 
unlined irrigation canals is intentionally recharged 
to California's underground basins each year. 
Taken together, this is a substantial amount of re- 
charge, but it does not completely replace the vol- 
ume of water pumped. Statewide, ground water 
pumping exceeds recharge by an average of 2.0 
million acre-feet a year — a deficit condition re- 
ferred to as "overdraft." 

Ground Water Overdraft 

Overdraft is usually defined as the average annual 
rate of ground water depletion in a basin refer- 
enced to a specific year of development of the 
overlying area, such as 1980 or 1990. It is the 
difference between water pumped by agricultural 
and urban users and the average long-term re- 
charge. While droughts or wetter-than-normal pe- 
riods affect ground water by lowering or raising 
water levels for a short time, the overall trend with 
overdraft is downward. Overdraft is sometimes also 
said to occur when basin water supplies are in bal- 
ance but locally excessive pumping is causing ad- 
verse effects, such as degradation of the quality of 
water produced. 

Much early water use in California depended on 
ground water. The use of ground water grew even 
greater with the widespread introduction of deep 
well turbine pumps early in this century. Many 
basins began experiencing overdraft in the 1920s as 
expanding water demands led to more pumping. 

\Thirly-nine percent of the water Catifornians use comes from the ground. 





I Alluvial Basins 
I Volcanics 


Since overdraft causes declining water levels and 
therefore increases the use of energy for pumping, 
the cost of pumping also increases. Other prob- 
lems can also be associated with overdraft. These 
include land subsidence, which raises the cost of 
maintaining roads, bridges, canals, and other facili- 
ties; sea-water intrusion, which occurs in coastal 
basins; and movement of poor-quality water into 
other parts of a basin or into an adjoining basin. 
These problems have long been recognized and, 
while they do not indicate a crisis with our ground 
water supply, they still represent difficulties. 

Recognition of overdraft problems has fostered 
much water resources planning and development. 
This is illustrated by a thumbnail sketch of the his- 
tory of water development in the Santa Clara Val- 
ley, located just south of San Francisco Bay. 

1930s - Use of ground water encourages the spread 
of agriculture. 

1940s - Overdraft increases pumping costs, and 
local agencies respond by constructing dams to 
store winter runoff for later recharge. 

1950s - Water levels begin to recover, but continu- 
ing widespread development again outruns the de- 
pendable water supply and overdraft returns, caus- 
ing significant localized land subsidence. 

1960s - Surface water is imported through the 
State Water Project. 

1970s - Water levels rise, but rapid growth threat- 
ens a return to overdraft in the future. 

1980s - Surface water is imported through the 
Central Valley Project. 

Similar stories could be told for other areas of the 
State. In some, overdraft would be eliminated; in 
others, such as some of the desert basins, overdraft 
is the only available water supply. In yet others, 
such as the San Joaquin Valley, considerable pro- 
gress toward eliminating overdraft would be appar- 
ent, but achievement of that goal is not yet in 
sight. Annual overdraft in the valley has been re- 
duced from a peak of about 1.7 million acre-feet 
per year in the 1950s and 1960s to about 1.3 mil- 
lion acre-feet per year at present from ground 
water basins holding 500 million acre-feet of water. 

The table shows the amount of overdraft in the 
State's major regions for a 1985 level of develop- 

Ground Water Overdraft 
1985 Level of Development 

In 1,000s of acre-feet 



North Coast 

San Francisco Bay 


Central Coast 


South Coast 


Sacramento River 


San Joaquin River and Tulare 

Lake 1,340 

North Lahontan 

South Lahontan 


Colorado River 




The Significance of Overdraft 

Although the table indicates that overdraft is still 
significant, the immediate consequences are not as 
dire as one might think. In all regions with over- 
draft, the amount of overdraft represents a very 
small annual depletion of ground water in storage. 
The small overdraft in the San Francisco Bay re- 
gion does not cause any serious problems. In the 
Sacramento Valley region, overdraft is concentrated 
in a few locations that are anomalies in an other- 
wise water-rich area, and this may be reduced by 
future improvements in water management. 

Overdraft is spread over much of the Central Coast 
region, with small average rates of decline. The 

Shallow ponds in the Santa Ana River. Orange County, are typical artificial recharge facilities for replenishing ground water. 
Dikes slow the river's flow, forcing it to spread and allowing it to seep underground. Water used for recharge at this site comes 
from surface runoff, treatment plant discharges, and imported water. The project is operated by the Orange County 
Water District. 


chief problem there is one of potential sea-water 
intrusion in some of the smaller coastal basins. In 
the South Coast region, future overdraft may be 
reduced as more imported water becomes available. 
The Colorado River and South Lahontan regions 
include numerous ground water basins with wide- 
spread overdraft. In many of these desert basins, 
effective recharge is near zero, and all pumping 
results in overdraft. Ground water in these regions 
can be considered as a nonrenewable resource. 
However, the locally stored reserves are immense, 
compared to amounts of ground water overdrafted. 
In some areas of concentrated overdraft, such as 
Antelope Valley, overdraft has declined as the cost 
of pumping water has risen, causing agricultural 
uses of water to decline. 

By far, the greatest incidence of overdraft in Cali- 
fornia is occurring in the San Joaquin Valley, and 
even here, important improvements have been 
made. For example, the Westlands Water District 
is no longer in overdraft since imported water sup- 
plies have been made available, and future pro- 
jects, although becoming more difficult to imple- 
ment, will also help control overdraft in other parts 
of the valley. The main impact of the overdraft 
has been higher pumping costs that are borne by 
all ground water users in the area, not solely by 
those located where overdraft is occurring. 

Ground Water Management 

Most ground water in California is available to any- 
one who wishes to pump it. In a few basins, how- 
ever, problems resulting from unrestrained ground 
water withdrawals in the past have led to legal ac- 
tion that has caused the establishment of formal 
ground water management programs. In some 
other basins, local ordinances and interagency 
agreements have been used as management meas- 

Eight basins in California have had their pumping 
rights adjudicated by the courts — six in intensely 
urbanized sections of Southern California and the 
others in Kern and Siskiyou counties. In two other 
highly urbanized basins — the Orange County 
coastal plain and the Santa Clara Valley — ground 

water management includes pumping fees instituted 
by special legislative authorization. Recently, the 
Legislature has authorized formation of ground 
water management districts in portions of Lassen, 
Plumas, Mendocino, and Sierra counties. Several 
other California counties have adopted ground 
water management measures through passage of 
local ordinances, although the legality of such 
measures remains uncertain. 

California's Water Conservation and 
Water Quality Bond Law of 1986 

The voters' approval of California's Water Conserva- 
tion and Water Quality Bond Law of 1986 made $75 
million available for low-interest loans for conserva- 
tion and ground water recharge projects. In re- 
sponse to the passage of this law, local agencies 
have filed 44 recharge project applications with DWR 
and requested more than $150 million. The law gives 
priority to ground water management proposals de- 
signed to alleviate overdrafted basins. Thus far, 74 
loan requests of about $100 million have been re- 
quested from DWR specifically for water conserva- 
tion projects, many of which will reduce California's 
ground water demand. 

Two Examples of Effective 
Ground Water Management 

The Orange County Water District, formed in 1933 to 
address serious ground water problems resulting 
from sea-water intrusion, operates several recharge 
facilities capable of percolating 250,000 acre-feet of 
water into underground basins each year. As part of 
its program, the district has created a hydraulic bar- 
rier to repel intruding sea-water by Injecting large 
quantities of reclaimed waste water through wells. 

In the San Joaquin Valley, growers in the Lower Tule 
River Irrigation District use both surface and ground 
water to meet their irrigation needs. In dry years, 
these growers irrigate their crops with ground water; 
in wet years, they rely on water from the Tule River 
and the Central Valley Project and recharge excess 
surface water to ground water storage through 
spreading basins, unlined canals, and the Tule River 


Adjudication is a legal process sometimes used to 
define rights to pump ground water. It has been 
used in California in the past when uncontrolled 
pumping threatened to deplete available ground 
water supplies. It has usually been a lengthy and 
costly process, involving i.iany engineers and attor- 
neys. Today, California's water management insti- 
tutions are more flexible and effective than before, 
and current water supply problems can usually be 
solved without turning to the courts. Even in the 
San Joaquin Valley, where overdraft sometimes 
leads to discussion of adjudication, local water 
management agencies believe that they are capable 
of dealing with present and future ground water 
problems and that management of this resource is 
most effective without strict pumping controls. 

Many of California's local and regional water agen- 
cies are actively managing their ground water re- 
sources by importing surface water, recharging 
ground water basins, conserving and reclaiming 
water, and providing incentives to control ground 
water pumping. Most of these agencies also meas- 
ure ground water levels regularly and closely moni- 
tor the quality of ground water pumped. Local 
agencies are continuing to devise creative ways of 
managing their ground water resources, even where 
clear legal authority is missing. New sources of 
funding, such as California's Water Conservation 
and Water Quality Bond Law of 1986, are increas- 
ing the opportunities to construct recharge facilities 
and implement projects to reduce ground water 

Most active ground water management programs 
are concentrated in the southern two-thirds of the 
State, where ground water usage is the most inten- 
sive and overdraft conditions have been the most 
severe. Ground water usage north of Sacramento 
is significant, but abundant surface water supplies 
and extensive natural recharge greatly reduce the 
need for formal management programs. 

More than 65 separate water agencies operate 
ground water recharge projects in California. As 
early as 1889, floodwater from San Antonio Creek 
in Southern California was conserved by recharging 
the alluvial fan at the mouth of San Antonio Can- 
yon. From this modest beginning, intentional re- 



OF 1986 



charge activities have increased substantially. To- 
day, thousands of acres of ponding basins and hun- 
dreds of miles of stream channels and unlined 
canals are used for recharge throughout the State. 
The amount of water recharged varies greatly from 
year to year, but, on the average, and in addition 
to recharge of local water supplies, about 1.1 mil- 
lion acre-feet of imported water is recharged under 
typical hydrologic conditions. Significant amounts 
of local runoff that would otherwise be lost are also 
recharged. Many other agencies provide intermit- 
tent surface water supplies to users who would 
otherwise pump ground water. This is called 
in-lieu recharge because the ground water that is 
not pumped accumulates in storage and is saved for 
use during dry periods. All these activities are 
referred to collectively as conjunctive use operation 
— an efficient and cost-effective way of stretching 
available surface and ground water supplies. 

In furthering the concept of conjunctive use, DWR 
has sponsored ground water recharge demonstration 
programs with two local agencies: Mojave Water 
Agency (MWA) and San Bernardino Valley 
Municipal Water District (SBVMWD). In the sum- 
mer of 1978, about 24,000 acre-feet of water was 
released into the Mojave River channel from Silver- 
wood Lake to recharge downstream ground water 
basins. MWA later acquired title to the water in 
lieu of deliveries through the California Aqueduct. 
A program with SBVMWD provided for recharge 
of up to 50,000 acre-feet of SWP water in ground 
water basins within the district's service area. 
From mid-1978 to January 1983, about 20,000 
acre-feet of SWP water was released to recharge 
basins in the Bunker Hill and adjacent ground 
water basins in the Santa Ana watershed. Re- 
charge operations were then terminated when 
several wet years caused a rise in ground water 
levels in the basins. In the dry year of 1987, the 
local district recovered the stored water in lieu of 
taking SWP deliveries. 

Two San Joaquin County water agencies, Stockton 
East Water District and Central San Joaquin Water 
Conservation District, have proposed an exchange 
of their New Melones contract water with the SWP 
during drier years for SWP financing of project 
facilities to divert their contract water to their facili- 
ties. The proposal would require conjunctive use 
by the local districts, which would use more surface 

water in wetter years and more ground water in 
drier years. The proposal could add up to about 
96,000 acre-feet of water supplies for the SWP in 
extremely dry years. 

Additional conjunctive use operations are now be- 
ing planned to meet various regional and local 
water needs. The Metropolitan Water District of 
Southern California, for example, is completing 
environmental assessments for a ground water stor- 
age (water banking) program in the Chino Basin, is 
cooperatively operating a similar program in the 
Coachella Basin, and is negotiating with the Arvin- 

Edison Water Storage District for the formation of 
a third such program in Kern County. The Kern 
County Water Agency, in cooperation with many of 
its member agencies and the city of Bakersfield, is 
expanding its ground water banking programs to 
benefit a wide portion of the southern San Joaquin 
Valley. The potential for yet another large water 
banking program exists in the service area of the 
proposed Mid-Valley Canal in Madera, Fresno, 
Kings, Tulare, and Kern counties. (The Depart- 
ment of Water Resources' Kern Water Bank is dis- 
cussed more fully in Chapter 5.) 

Impacts of Recent Wet Years on San 
Joaquin Valley Ground Water Supplies 

In recent years, water levels In many areas of the 
San Joaquin Valley have risen, and many people 
have concluded that overdraft has been overcome, 
or at least greatly reduced. For example, from 1970 
through the end of the 1976-1977 drought, the 
amount of water in storage in the Kern County basin 
declined by about 5.7 million acre-feet. Since that 
time, ground water storage has Increased by about 
4.3 million acre-feet. 

However, the years since the drought have been 
unusually wet, with Kern River flows into the valley 
at 165 percent of average for 94 years of measure- 
ment, and most other valley rivers and streams had 
similarly high runoff figures. Such plentiful local 
surface water and the Increased availability of water 
from the Central Valley Project and the State Water 
Project greatly reduced the need to pump ground 
water. Furthermore, during this period of abun- 
dance, local water managers followed good manage- 
ment practices by expanding recharge programs to 
store large amounts of surplus water in the ground 
throughout the valley. Unfortunately, when more 
typical weather conditions return, water levels will 
dip as ground water pumping is expected to again 
exceed replenishment. 




Cdllfornia will meet its future water needs prima- 
rily through a wide variety of management actions 
designed to supplement, improve, and make better 
use of existing systems. These will include ex- 
panded transportation system capabilities, placing 
more reliance on ground water basins, and increas- 
ing the use of water transfers and water banking in 
offstream surface and ground water reservoirs. 
While most of the economical reservoir sites in the 
State have been developed, some expansion of 
traditional on-stream storage systems is expected. 
Some of the specific actions expected to occur are 
discussed in this chapter. 

Statewide Overview 

California's estimated total net use of water in 1985 
was 34.2 million acre-feet. The table, "Use and 
Status of Present Supplies" (following), shows the 
contributions made by various sources of supply in 
meeting that level of use. Except for the Central 
Valley Project, developed but unused supplies are 
relatively small. Assuming a leveling off of agricul- 
tural water use, as explained in Chapter 2, the 
State's yearly net water needs by 2010 are pro- 
jected to reach 35.6 million acre-feet. While this 
1.4-million-acre-foot increase is not great when 
compared to present use, it represents a substantial 
part of the remaining potentially developable and 
uncommitted surface supplies of the State. 

Some of the 1.4 million acre-feet can be met from, 
uncontracted-for Central Valley Project supplies. 
The remainder can be satisfied from a variety of 
other sources. Not included in the supplemental 
water needs is correction of the existing long-term 
ground water overdraft, currently averaging 2.0 
million acre-feet per year, statewide. As explained 

in Chapter 4, some of the ground water overdraft 
will be offset by surplus Delta supplies from new 
delivery systems in years of adequate runoff, and 
the rest will probably be considered to be a one- 
time depletion. 

Two general observations should be made about the 
projections of future demands and supplies. First, 
there is considerable variation from year to year in 
both the demand side and the supply side of the 
equation. In particular, during dry years when 
supplies are reduced, demands usually increase. 

The second observation is that more and more 
different types of management options are involved 
in meeting California's water needs. Depending on 
the location and situation, they include the follow- 
ing: conjunctive use of ground water and surface 
water; system interconnections; water marketing, 
transfers, and sharing; waste water reclamation; 
desalting; water conservation and salvage; conven- 
tional reservoirs; and weather modification. There 
is probably a fair analogy with the electric utilities 
in which supplies are being provided from more 
and more diverse sources. 

The table, "Meeting Water Needs to 2010" (Jol- 
lowing), shows what are presently seen as the 
sources of supply for meeting water needs in the 
State to 2010. Changes from existing supplies are 
shown in the second column. Water savings by the 
Imperial Irrigation District and lining of the Ail- 
American Canal and the remaining unlined portion 
of the Coachella Canal is assumed to make 
250,000 acre-feet available annually to the South 
Coast region. The CVP has uncontracted-for 
dependable supplies estimated by the Bureau of 
Reclamation to be about one million acre-feet. 

Interior of a collapsible form being assembled to shape tunnel lining in the Bureau of Reclamation's San 
Felipe Project, which has begun delivery of water from San Luis Reservoir to Santa Clara and San Benito 


Use and Status of Present Supplies 

Source of Supply 

1985 Net Use 


Local surface water 

Ground water safe yield 

Federal Central Valley 

Other federal sources 
State Water Project 

Colorado River 

Local agency Imports 
(excluding the Colorado 

Reclaimed waste water 

Ground water overdraft 

In million in percent 


9.2 27 






Mostly fully used. About 0.1 million acre-feet of un- 
used yield is available in Sacramento Valley. 

Modest additional supplies in Northern California are 

CVP has an additional uncontracted-for project sup- 
ply of about 1 million acre-feet, depending on place of 
use and other factors. (See Chapter 3.) 

Existing supplies are nearly fully committed. 

Dependable supplies of existing facilities of 2.3 million 
acre-feet are fully committed in dry years. Amount 
shown includes 0.1 million acre-feet of surplus water 

Recent use has averaged 4.8 million acre-feet. Firm 
supply will be reduced to 4.4 million acre-feet after 
start of Central Arizona Project deliveries. California 
gets first surpluses in lower Colorado River. 

San Luis Obispo County, San Francisco, and East 
Bay Municipal Water District have unused supplies, 
but conveyance facilities are needed. 

Some potential exists for increased use of existing 
waste water supplies, primarily in Southern California 
and the San Francisco Bay area. 

Future amount will be affected by availability of alter- 
native surface supplies and economics of pump lifts. 


Meeting Water Needs to 2010 

Source of Supply 

Local surface water 
Ground water safe yield 

Federal Central Valley Project 

Otfier federal sources 
State Water Project 

Colorado River 

Local agency Imports (excluding 1.1 

the Colorado River) 

Reclaimed waste water 

Projected Change 

2010 Net Use from 1985 

in million acre-feet 

9.2 — 

6.1 0.1 


Ground water overdraft 





Source yet to be determined 0.4 

Some relatively small additions are expected. 

Some additional development is projected 
In Northern California basins. 

San Felipe Division; New Melones supply 
contracts; IVIId-Vaiiey Canal service area. 

None assumed by 2010. 

Increase In dependable supplies Is 0.9 million 
acre-feet. Assumes additions to SWP shown 
on figure. 

Assumes no surplus flow available. Assumes 
200,000 acre-feet of 450,000 acre-feet of water 
salvage Is reserved for future use In the impe- 
rial Valley. 

San Francisco Bay region, Including some use 
of American River water by East Bay Municipal 
Utility District. 

Mostly additional projects in South Coast 
and San Francisco Bay regions. 

Decrease due to Mid-Valley Canal supplies Is 
nearly offset by increases in other locations. 

Needs are primarily in South Coast and Tulare 
Lake regions. 

Major Water Management Actions whose effects appear above in the "Change from 1985" column are listed 
here and described in subsequent sections of the report. 


Delta Pumping Plant Completion 
Los Banos Grandes Reservoir 
North Delta Facilities 

Kern Water Bank 

South Delta Facilities 

North Fork Stanislaus River Project 


Coastal Aqueduct-SWP 
East Branch Enlargement-SWP 
CVP Wheeling-Purchase-SWP 
Imperial Irrigation District 
Salvage Water 

San Felipe DIvlsion-CVP 
New Melones Reservoir-CVP 
Mid-Valley Canal-CVP 
East Bay MUD American River 


Various projects, primarily in the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley regions. 


Waste water reclamation is assumed to add 
200,000 acre-feet of replacement supply. For the 
SWP, supply additions described later could 
provide about 900,000 acre-feet of dependable 
supply. With those additions, there would still be a 
potential shortfall in dependable supplies of 
400,000 acre-feet per year in 2010, in addition to 
the ground water overdraft. If this shortage actu- 
ally materialized, it would have to be offset by a 
variety of management actions appropriate to the 
situation. With the exception of the IID-MWD 
exchange and the CVP-SWP wheeling/purchase, 
no specific amount has been assumed for water 
marketing. However, additional water transfers are 
expected to play a role in meeting needs, particu- 
larly if shortages should develop in South Coast 
urban areas. 

Amounts shown in the table for surface water pro- 
jects are largely dependable supply, which is bal- 
anced against the average net use. While this is a 
useful comparison, to some extent it is an instance 
of mixing apples and oranges. Urban and agricul- 
tural development in California relies on having a 
dependable supply of water available. The inability 
to maintain dependable water deliveries during a 
sustained drought would have a severe impact on 
the State's economy. Consequently, large water 
supply systems such as the CVP and SWP are 
designed and operated to provide a reliable level of 
water delivery capability — a firm-yield or depend- 
able-supply type of operation that can maintain 
most deliveries through a recurrence of an ex- 
tended drought. For Northern California, this is 
generally all or part of the historical period, 
1928-1934. In addition, pre-established allowable 
delivery shortages in extremely dry years are usually 
incorporated in the operational plans and water 

Setting a mode of operation in this manner means 
that, in wetter years, additional water is available 
for delivery. This is sometimes referred to as sur- 
plus or nonfirm water. For a fully developed pro- 
ject, where demands are equal to dependable sup- 
ply, surplus water could be expected about 70 per- 
cent of the years in an extended period of 50 years 
or so. At the other end of the spectrum, amounts 
less than dependable supplies might occur in 2 to 5 
percent of the years, after allowable deficiencies. 

Surplus water deliveries contribute significantly to 
the overall usable water supplies of the State. 
Non-firm water is particularly valuable as a 
replacement for ground water pumping or for 
recharging ground water basins, thereby helping to 
correct long-term overdraft conditions. In addi- 
tion, by developing conjunctive use programs and 
using surplus surface supplies in conjunction with 
ground water, dependable supplies can be ex- 

In this report, estimates of net water use for irri- 
gated crops and turf areas are derived from the 
amount of irrigation water consumed by plants, 
averaged over many years of record. Actually, in 
drought years, water consumption by plants can be 
significantly higher than average because of the 
need to begin irrigation earlier and, for perennial 
crops and landscaping, to continue it longer. Total 
net water use increases accordingly, so the need for 
water during dry periods is somewhat greater than 
shown in the table. Increased conservation efforts 
to reduce losses can help compensate for the 
longer irrigation period that is necessary during 
drought periods. 

Most of the better dam and reservoir sites in Cali- 
fornia have already been developed. Local agen- 
cies in particular have largely exhausted possibilities 
available to them. A few viable projects remain 
that will help solve growing local water supply prob- 
lems. These are described in Chapter 6. 

For local agencies unable to finance new supplies, 
reducing system losses and increasing water conser- 
vation can ease supply shortages. In some cases, 
loans and grants under the State's Safe Drinking 
Water program have helped fund improvements to 
existing systems. 

The following sections describe some possibilities at 
the State and federal levels for adding to presently 
available water supplies and the additional facilities 
needed to convey those supplies to areas of need. 

Federal and State Water Projects 

While the Central Valley Project has uncontracted- 
for water and does not presently need to add to 
system supplies, the State Water Project has 
reached the point where current requests for water 
by the project's contractors exceed dependable 
supplies. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is in 


the environmental review process, preparatory to 
marketing its remaining supplies. For the SWP, 
the present dependable supply is about 2.3 million 
acre-feet. Projected requirements in 2010 are 
about 3.6 million acre-feet, assuming 250,000 
acre-feet of water conserved in the Colorado River 
region becomes available for use in the South Coast 
region, and waste water reuse increases by 200,000 
acre-feet in SWP service areas. Under those as- 
sumptions, the existing SWP facilities would have a 
deficit in present dependable supplies in 2010 of 
some 1.3 million acre-feet. 

Various projects, facilities, and programs for aug- 
menting supplies are discussed below and in Chap- 

ter 7. Taken together, these actions indicate con- 
siderable progress in improving the water supply 
reliability of the State Water Project. Planned 
additions to SWP water supplies are listed on the 
figure below. The lower plotted line represents a 
dependable water supply capability of 2.3 million 
acre-feet per year, with permissible deficiencies 
during a repeat of the 1928-1934 critical dry pe- 
riod. (The dip to about 0.7 million acre-feet re- 
flects extraordinarily dry conditions in 1977.) Ex- 
cess supplies would be available about 70 percent 
of the time at this level of dependable deliveries. 

With the additions, dependable water supply deliv- 
ery capability would increase to about 3.2 million 


Year 2010 Dependable Supply Requirements 





70 60 50 40 30 



acre-feet per year. Projected 2010 requirements of 
3.6 million acre-feet could be provided 90 percent 
of the time, with permissible deficiencies. 

A need for dependable supplies amounting to as 
much as 0.4 million acre-feet in a given year 
would remain after the supply additions shown. It 
should be emphasized that this would not be a 
chronic shortage, but a shortage could occur in dry 
years. A temporary shortage of this magnitude 
may well be manageable with extraordinary conser- 
vation efforts (measures taken only during time of 
drought) and such actions as water marketing, 
water banking, or extra withdrawals from ground 
water storage. 

SWP Wheeling and Purchasing of CVP Supplies 

In 1986, the United States and California reached 
agreement on the "Coordinated Operation of the 
Central Valley Project and the State Water Project" 
(CO A). Section 10(h) of the CO A provides that 
DWR and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 
promptly negotiate a contract for the SWP to wheel 
water for the CVP on the basis of equal priority of 
SWP long-term contractors and for the Bureau to 
sell interim CVP water to the State with a priority 
like that of long-term CVP contractors. There is 
also a provision in the COA for the Bureau to 
purchase additional wheeling that uses surplus ca- 
pacity in the California Aqueduct (SWP) after all 
SWP contractors' needs are met. 

Under this arrangement, it is assumed an interim 
supply of 250,000 acre-feet per year, less dry-year 
deficiencies, would be available to the SWP to at 
least 2010. It is possible that up to 500,000 acre- 
feet might be available. Negotiations are presently 
in progress to work out the details of the wheeling 
and purchase contract. 

Even further optimization of the SWP-CVP system 
would probably result from operation of the CVP 
water facilities by the State, as has been suggested 
from time to time. There are many problems yet 
to be sorted out and even identified before any 
serious proposal could be evaluated. Nevertheless, 
during 1987, the federal government indicated a 
serious interest in pursuing this idea, and prelimi- 
nary discussions have begun. 

The Delta Pumping Plant 

The most advanced program to augment the water 
supply of the State Water Project is the installation 
of more pumping units at the Harvey O. Banks 
Delta Pumping Plant. The plant was built to hold 
1 1 units, but only seven were initially installed. 
The additional units, which will increase pumping 
capacity from 6,400 to 10,300 cubic feet per sec- 
ond, are scheduled to go into operation in the 
early 1990s. They will provide standby capacity for 
the present units and permit more pumping to be 
performed with cheaper off-peak power. They will 
also allow a small amount of additional pumping in 
the winter, increasing dependable supply of the 
SWP by about 60,000 acre-feet per year. At first, 
the plant will pump at no more than the average 
historic pumping rate from March 16 through De- 
cember 14, in accordance with criteria established 
by the Corps of Engineers under federal law. 

Full operation of the Delta Pumping Plant depends 
on increasing the channel capacity in the southern 
Delta. After additional fish mitigation measures are 
designed and agreed upon, a revised permit will be 
sought from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to 
allow the SWP to develop more channel capacity 
and divert more water during the winter, thus in- 
creasing its ability to fill offstream storage reservoirs 
and ground water basins south of the Delta. 

Stale Water Project water leaves the southern Delia ihr 
the Delta Pumping Plant and is lifted 244 feet by seven 
giant pumps into the California Aqueduct. Four more 
pumps are being added. 


Offstream Storage South of the Delta: 
Los Banos Grandes Project 

Nearly all interests agree that plans for future water 
development should emphasize water diversion 
from the Delta during winter months to storage 
facilities south of the Delta. In 1984 the Legisla- 
ture overwhelmingly approved authorization of the 
Los Banos Grandes Offstream Storage Reservoir as 
a future SWP facility. 

The proposed Los Banos Grandes Reservoir on Los 
Banos Creek just south of existing San Luis Reser- 
voir would store excess water pumped south from 

the Delta through the California Aqueduct during 
wet months, primarily November through March. 
Studies thus far suggest that a reservoir with about 
1.25 million acre-feet of storage capacity would be 
the most cost-effective size for the SWP, increasing 
dependable supply for the SWP by about 214,000 
acre-feet. The studies were based upon long-term 
conditions and assumed the full use of the four 
additional pumps at the Banks Delta Pumping 
Plant, as well as an improved Delta water transfer 
system. Comprehensive feasibility studies now un- 
der way are scheduled for completion in 1989. 

Site of proposed Los Banos Grandes Reservoir (in blue) is south of the Delta in the foothills of western San Joaquin Valley, just 
upstream from Los Banos Detention Reservoir. In the foreground. Interstate 5 and the California Aqueduct. 





Pumping Plant 

Pump Generating Plant 

Dos Amigot 

Cachuma Reservoir. The reservoir is owned by the 
Bureau of Reclamation. 

Cottonwood Creek Project 

Cottonwood Creek, in Shasta and Tehama Coun- 
ties, is the largest uncontrolled tributary of the 
Sacramento River and a major contributor to flood- 
ing, particularly along the upper river. In 1970, 
the Corps of Engineers obtained congressional 
authorization for a two-dam project on Cottonwood 
Creek, for flood protection and for developing addi- 
tional water supply that would have been sold to 
the State Water Project. However, the Corps ter- 
minated studies of its proposed project in 1985, 
when revised cost estimates resulted in water costs 
too high for SWP contractors. 

In carrying out its commitment to help the local 
counties solve their flood problems, in 1985 DWR 
reinitiated studies of less costly upstream reservoirs 
identified in earlier investigations. Analysis showed 
three tributary reservoirs (Hulen, Fiddlers, and 
Dippingvat) would substantially reduce the 100-year 
peak floodflow on Cottonwood Creek. 

As at San Luis Reservoir, the project would include 
a pumping-generating system for filling the reser- 
voir from the California Aqueduct and for recover- 
ing energy when releases are made. The potential 
for a joint project with the Central Valley Project is 
being studied, as is increased energy generation 
through a pumped-storage operation with several 
electric utility companies. 

Cachuma Reservoir Enlargement 

SWP water supply can be augmented by local pro- 
jects, provided certain guidelines are met. Santa 
Barbara County, in evaluating its future water needs 
and alternative sources of supply, decided to serve 
its northern area through the Coastal Branch of the 
California Aqueduct. Its southern coastal area 
would be served by enlarging Cachuma Reservoir 
on the Santa Ynez River because it appears to be a 
less expensive alternative than delivering water from 
the California Aqueduct. Preliminary studies indi- 
cate the enlargement would yield a new supply of 
about 17,000 acre-feet per year. 

A feasibility study in cooperation with the Bureau 
of Reclamation and Santa Barbara County is now 
under way to determine the feasibility of enlarging 



Schoenfleld Res. 


Subsequent analysis of the Dippingvat project 
showed that a more desirable arrangement was a 
combination diversion and storage dam at the lower 
Dippingvat site, with a diversion canal to a storage 
dam at the Schoenfield site in the adjacent Red 
Bank Creek basin. This project has the potential 
for fishery enhancement in Cottonwood Creek and 
on the Sacramento River at the Red Bluff diversion 
dam. Feasibility studies of Dippingvat and Schoen- 
field started in July 1987. 

Auburn Dam 

In 1967, the Bureau of Reclamation began con- 
struction of Auburn Dam on the North Fork 
American River. At the size then planned, the 
reservoir would have had a capacity of 2.3 million 
acre-feet. Work was suspended in 1978, pending 
completion of additional seismic evaluations and 
resolution of instream flow issues involving the 
lower American River. 

In February 1984, a State/Federal Auburn Dam 
Task Force was formed to re-evaluate the project. 
As the result of revised federal policy, the non- 
federal share of the cost of federal water projects 
has increased considerably since the project was 
authorized. Funding has not been identified to 
repay these costs. The portion of the project allo- 
cated to water supply produces a cost for water that 
is unattractive to most potential purchasers. 

The record flows experienced in the American 
River system in February 1986 prompted the 
Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of 
Water Resources to fund a study by the Corps of 
Engineers of alternative flood control measures for 
the lower American River. Results of the Corps' 
study show total flood control storage requirements 
on the American River would be 900,000 acre-feet 
for about the 200-year level of protection. This 
estimate reflects revised hydrology that incorporates 
recent rainfall history. The present 400,000 acre- 
feet of flood control storage in Folsom Reservoir 
controls only a storm that, on average, could occur 
once in 63 years, well below the desired level of 

The two controlling factors at the Auburn Dam site 
seem to be the amount of justifiable storage capac- 
ity above that needed to protect the Sacramento 
metropolitan area from flooding, and the amount 

of financing that can be obtained from the State 
and the city and county of Sacramento. At the 
present time, the 2.3-million-acre-foot reservoir is 
too expensive to finance. A smaller dam providing 
the required flood control storage, with some addi- 
tional storage for water supply and power genera- 
tion, may be an achievable project. A further 
consideration is that there is substantial opposition 
from environmental interests to any size dam at the 
Auburn site that results in a permanent pool of 
water inundating the channel upstream of the site. 

Ground Water Storage 

One method to increase the dependable supply of 
the State Water Project is to store surplus water in 
ground water basins during years of abundant 
supply for extraction and use in dry years. Using 
available ground water storage space has many 
advantages over construction of a new surface stor- 
age facility. Ground water storage results in less 
evaporation, has a lower capital cost, usually does 
not require an extensive distribution system, and is 
generally more environmentally acceptable than 
surface storage. Also, imported water stored 
underground would reduce pump lifts for other 
pumpers in the basin while that water is in storage. 

At the height of the record February 1986 storms, Folsom 
Dam was spilling 130.000 cubic feet per second into the 
American River. 15.000 cfs more than the design capacity of 
downstream levees protecting the Sacramento metropolitan 


One water planner has likened our surface reser- 
voirs to checking accounts and our ground water 
storage to savings accounts. 

To facilitate ground water storage programs for the 
State Water Project, Senate Bill 187 passed the 
Legislature and was signed into law by the Gover- 
nor in 1985. The bill authorizes the inclusion of 
ground water storage projects south of the Delta 
into the SWP, subject to (1) a finding of feasibility 
by the Director of Water Resources and (2) the 
securing of a contract with the SWP water contrac- 
tor in whose service area the project is located. 
SWP system operations studies suggest that signifi- 
cant additional water could be made available 
through conjunctive use of surface facilities and a 
ground water storage program. 

The Kern Water Bank 

The Department of Water Resources proposes to 
establish a ground water project in Kern County 
that would permit SWP water to be recharged, 
stored, and extracted. The project is being devel- 
oped in cooperation with the local SWP contractor, 
the Kern County Water Agency. Known as the 
Kern Water Bank, the project will serve two impor- 
tant functions. First, it will be operated in con- 
junction with State Water Project facilities and local 
facilities to increase SWP dependable supplies. 
Second, its facilities will also be used by local agen- 
cies to increase the amount of local water that can 
be captured and stored. 





r- I 


J~l-,'c!!---^^ — PROPOSED 


V- California ^^ / 
^ Aqueduct /L 
^-.y^ /^Buena Vista Canal 

The Kern Water Bank project is planned in two 
phases. The first involves acquisition of land along 
the lower part of the Kern River to build recharge 
basins and extraction wells. These facilities, which 
will be used to store and recover SWP water, will 
complement the existing recharge area operated by 
the city of Bakersfield. As now planned, operation 
of the first phase facilities and the city's recharge 
basin will be coordinated, with SWP water and 
local water being recharged in either facility when 
space is available. The project will be operated to 
avoid adverse impacts on local water supply. 

The initial phase of the Kern Water Bank is 
expected to increase the dependable supply of the 
State Water Project by about 140,000 acre-feet. 
Furthermore, the proposed ground water project 
will make possible the recharge of local water that 
would otherwise be diverted through the Kern River 
Intertie into the California Aqueduct or would 
flood Tulare Lake farmlands. The greater ability 
to make local exchanges of water, along with elimi- 
nation of pumping to irrigate property acquired for 
the project, will reduce regional overdraft. 

The second phase of the project will involve 
recharge of SWP water elsewhere in Kern County 
by means of in-lieu recharge. This will involve 
some construction of new surface delivery facilities. 
In effect, SWP water, when available, will be deliv- 
ered to ground water users who will reduce their 
pumpage. The State Water Project will receive 
ground water storage credits for the reduction of 
ground water pumping. 

Conveyance System Additions 

By far the greatest amounts of additional supplies 
are needed in areas of the State relying on inter- 
basin transfers of water. Enlargement of and addi- 
tions to aqueducts of the federal CVP and the 
SWP are looked to for conveying most of the water 
delivered to meet the increase in needs. In addi- 
tion, several regional agencies have proposals for 
adding to their imported supplies. Planned con- 
struction or enlargement of some major conveyance 
facilities is described in the following sections. 


The East Branch Enlargement, 
California Aqueduct 

The original capacity allocations in the California 
Aqueduct provided for The Metropolitan Water 
District to take delivery of about 72 percent of its 
maximum annual entitlement via the West Branch 
(and 28 percent via the East Branch). The reduc- 
tion of water supply to Southern California from 
the Colorado River and extensive growth in the 
eastern part of the MWD service area have resulted 
in the need for increased capacity to allow a 
greater share of water deliveries to be made 
through the East Branch. 

Existing capacity of the East Branch is 1,643 cubic 
feet per second immediately beyond the West 
Branch, dropping to 1,200 cfs at Devil Canyon 
Power Plant near San Bernardino, a distance of 
about 110 miles. As presently planned, enlarge- 
ment will be carried out in two stages. The first, 
adding about 750 cfs of capacity, is scheduled to 
be in operation in 1992. The second, estimated to 
be needed by 2004, would add another 750 to 
933 cfs, depending on the reach involved. 

The Coastal Branch, California Aqueduct 

Over the past few years, Santa Barbara County, 
San Luis Obispo County, and DWR have joined in 
evaluating alternative water supply projects. Among 
these alternatives are various local water develop- 
ment projects, plus importation of contracted-for 

SWP water through the authorized Coastal Branch 
of the California Aqueduct. According to the find- 
ings of a 1985 reconnaissance study, the most eco- 
nomical alternatives for meeting future needs in 
Santa Barbara County were importing SWP water 
and enlarging Cachuma Reservoir as a local water 
supply unit of the SWP. For San Luis Obispo 
County, a 1986 study recommended imported SWP 
water as the best way to meet projected needs. 

Based on these two studies, in 1986 both counties 
asked DWR to proceed with advance planning stud- 
ies for the Coastal Aqueduct. These studies should 
be completed in mid-1989. If the two counties 
decide to participate in the Coastal Aqueduct, 
DWR will proceed with final design and construc- 
tion. The aqueduct is expected to be in operation 
about 4)^ years after final design is initiated. To- 
gether, the two agencies have contracted for 70,486 
acre-feet of water per year from the State project. 

The Nacimlento Pipeline 

The Monterey County Flood Control and Water 
Conservation District completed construction of 
Nacimiento Reservoir in 1958. In a 1959 agree- 
ment, San Luis Obispo County acquired the rights 
to 17,500 acre-feet of water from the reservoir. 
About 1,300 acre-feet has been contracted for, to 
be used in the area around the lake, leaving 
16,200 acre-feet available for distribution to other 
parts of the county. 

The East Branch Enlargement, a project to expand the capacity of the California Aqueduct, will bring more water to the eastern 
part of The Metropolitan Water District's service area. 


A pipeline from Nacimiento Reservoir could convey 
the water farther south within San Luis Obispo 
County. Assuming the county elects to participate 
in the Coastal Branch, the Nacimiento supply will 
not be needed until about 2010. 

San Felipe Division of the CVP 

The San Felipe Division, with its initial phase com- 
pleted in the summer of 1987, delivers water from 
San Luis Reservoir to Santa Clara and San Benito 
Counties. Facilities may be extended later to serve 
Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. When fully 
developed, the project will deliver about 152,000 
acre-feet to Santa Clara County and 40,000 acre- 
feet to San Benito County. About 60 percent of 
the water delivered to Santa Clara County will be 
used to recharge the ground water basin. Nearly 
all the water sent to San Benito County will be 
used to replace boron-contaminated ground water 
and to bring agricultural land into production. 

American River Aqueduct, East Bay 
IVIunicipal Utility District 

In planning to meet future water needs in its serv- 
ice area, the East Bay Municipal Utility District 


Future Nacimiento 
Pipeline N^ 

Santa Barbara 

signed a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation 
in 1970 for up to 150,000 acre-feet of American 
River water from the Folsom South Canal. This 
would supplement EBMUD's Mokelumne River 
supply. By taking delivery from the Folsom South 
Canal, EBMUD would minimize treatment costs 
and provide a continuing supply of high-quality 
water to customers. 

In 1972, the Environmental Defense Fund and 
others filed a lawsuit that seeks to prevent EBMUD 
from diverting from the American River. The suit 
contends that the water should be diverted below 
the confluence with the Sacramento River so that 
beneficial uses of the water in the lower American 
River are not diminished. In late 1984, the court 
appointed the State Water Resources Control Board 
as referee, directing it to investigate and prepare a 
report on the legal, technical, and public trust is- 
sues that the suit raised. In mid-1987, the Board 
began hearing comments on and objections to its 
staff's recommendation, which sided with EBMUD 
on the basis of water quality considerations, pro- 
vided that certain instream flow standards are 
maintained in the lower American River. 

The North Bay Aqueduct of the 
State Water Project 

In 1963, Napa and Solano counties contracted with 
the SWP for a total of 67,000 acre-feet of water 
per year on full delivery — 25,000 for Napa and 
42,000 for Solano. Phase I aqueduct facilities were 
completed in 1968 to serve Napa County with sup- 
plies obtained by interconnection with the Putah 
South Canal of the federal Solano Project. When 
Phase II facilities are completed in late 1987, both 
counties will be able to receive SWP water, and 
deliveries from the Solano Project will cease. A 
pumping plant on Barker Slough in the western 
Delta will lift water into a pipeline extending about 
25 miles west, connecting with Phase I facilities 
near Cordelia. The North Bay Aqueduct will also 
transport the city of Vallejo's present water supply 
now being diverted from nearby Cache Slough. 

The Mid-Valley Canal Project 

Ground water basins in the San Joaquin Valley, 
primarily along the eastern side within the Central 
Valley Project's service area, have long been exten- 
sively overdrafted. This has occurred because local 
surface water, imported water, and renewable 
ground water supplies are inadequate to sustain the 


irrigated agriculture that has developed on the 
overlying lands. Overdraft now averages more than 
one million acre-feet per year. 

The need for more conveyance facilities to bring 
additional water to this area has been recognized 
for 25 years or more, and various plans have been 
prepared. In 1984, the Bureau of Reclamation, in 
cooperation with the Mid-Valley Water Authority 
and DWR, renewed planning for such facilities. 
This effort, which involves evaluating and updating 
earlier plans, is directed toward federal authoriza- 
tion of a project to import an average of about 
400,000 acre-feet yearly to offset present ground 
water overdraft. Mid- Valley interests have agreed 
that no new land would be brought into production 
with the project. Construction of the Mid-Valley 
Canal would also create more opportunity for water 
banking by both the CVP and the SWP. 

Temporary delivery of 150,000 acre-feet of water 
yearly to the Mid-Valley Canal Water Authority is 
now under study by the Bureau. This action as- 
sumes both direct delivery and exchanges of water 
with various water districts. It would use capacity 
available in the California Aqueduct, the Cross 
Valley Canal, and other existing facilities. No new 
facilities would be needed. 

Interconnections and Water Sharing 

The drought of 1976-1977 showed the capability 
that exists for water sharing and water exchanges 
through interconnection of existing aqueduct sys- 
tems. A small but well-known example is the in- 
terconnection made to provide water-short Marin 
County with emergency supplies in 1977. In that 
instance, surplus water was available in the Colo- 
rado River. Together with a wide range of other 
agencies. The Metropolitan Water District agreed to 

This 63-inch-diameter section of the SWP's North Bay Aqueduct, paralleling Interstate 80 between the Anheuser-Busch brewery 
and Cordelia Junction, dips slightly to pass under Dan Wilson Creek. 


reduce its demand on the SWP and call upon its 
alternative supply from the Colorado River. (Oth- 
ers included were DWR, the East Bay Municipal 
Utility District, the Bureau of Reclamation, the 
State Water Resources Control Board, the Contra 
Costa County Water District, and the Marin Mu- 
nicipal Water District.) The physical arrangements 
included the SWP's South Bay Aqueduct, facilities 
of the cities of San Francisco and Hayward, a new 
interconnection with East Bay Municipal's facilities, 
and a new pumping plant built by Marin Municipal 
in Richmond, discharging into a temporary pipeline 
laid on the deck of the Richmond-San Rafael 
Bridge to convey water to Marin Municipal's facili- 
ties near San Rafael. 

Today in the South Coast region, system intercon- 
nections make possible a high degree of water shar- 
ing among agencies. The distribution system of 
The Metropolitan Water District interconnects the 
SWP's California Aqueduct and MWD's Colorado 
River Aqueduct. The Los Angeles Aqueduct is 
also interconnected with MWD's system and the 
California Aqueduct. 

At the State and federal levels, the reservoirs and 
aqueducts of the CVP and SWP form an intercon- 
nected delivery network that can reach more than 
75 percent of the State's population. 


In the agricultural sector, an interim plan for the 
Mid-Valley Canal service area would enable about 
150,000 acre-feet of CVP supplies to be delivered 
through existing canal systems by means of ex- 
change, transfer, and sharing agreements among 
the various water agencies in the service area. 

A proposal by MWD and the Arvin-Edison Water 
Storage District, located southeast of Bakersfield, is 
being investigated by both agencies and potentially 
affected interests. In this case, MWD would during 
some years deliver part of its SWP entitlement 
water to Arvin-Edison, which would use it either 
for direct spreading or as a surface supply to land 
that would otherwise have been served by pumped 
ground water (in-lieu ground water recharge). In 
exchange, during years when MWD requires addi- 
tional water, Arvin-Edison would make water avail- 
able to MWD from its CVP contract entitlement 
and would meet its needs by using water previously 
stored underground. MWD would pay for capital 
additions to Arvin-Edison's water distribution facili- 
ties and any additional well capacity or spreading 
works required to implement the program. 

The foregoing examples illustrate that, through 
creative arrangements, available storage and surplus 
supplies can be used to help water-short regions of 
the State overcome their shortages and defer con- 
struction involving more costly sources. 

Water Transfers 

The costs of constructing conventional, large-scale 
water supply systems have increased greatly over 
the last two decades, apart from the effect of infla- 
tion. Higher costs, along with a steady increase in 
municipal and industrial water needs, have pressed 
urban water agencies into looking for supply alter- 
natives. Moreover, some California farmers are 
experiencing financial difficulties that have forced 
them to explore other ways of producing income, 
and some are interested in getting out of water 
supply contracts entered into in earlier years. 
Thus, farmers are now giving considerable attention 
to an option called water marketing, or water trans- 
fers, which is the sale or transfer of water or water 
rights from one user or use to another. 

One result of interest in water marketing or water 
transfers was the enactment in 1982 of the first 
California legislation aimed specifically at allowing 
water transfers to take place. Assembly Bill 3491 


(Katz) directs the Department of Water Resources 
and the State Water Resources Control Board to 
encourage voluntary transfers of water and water 
rights, and permits water agencies to sell, lease, 
exchange, or otherwise transfer water that is surplus 
to the needs of agencies' water users. Transfers 
are limited to a seven-year period. The act allows 
agencies to sell, lease, exchange, or otherwise 
transfer reclaimed or conserved water, and author- 
izes the Board to issue a conditional, temporary 
order changing a point of diversion, place of use, 
or purpose of use from that specified in a permit. 
(Subsequent legislation related to water transfers 
and water marketing is listed in Chapter 11.) 

As with many "new" ideas, the concept of water 
transfers has actually been around a long time. 
When Los Angeles bought out the farmers in 
Owens Valley early in this century, the purpose was 
to acquire their water. Other small, often less 
controversial transfers have taken place throughout 
the State over many years. 

In some situations, water transfers should prove to 
be a viable alternative to water development pro- 
jects. They can be a means of using available 
supplies more efficiently. However, transfers are 
being approached cautiously. Adverse economic 
and environmental effects, water rights questions, 
and third-party impacts must be addressed when 
effecting a transfer. 

Ideally, a market system should improve the lot of 
both buyer and seller. The buyer should gain by 
acquiring something needed at a favorable cost; the 
seller should gain by receiving more in return than 
would be obtained by retaining the resource. How- 
ever, there is concern that such transactions may 
not adequately compensate those not directly in- 
volved in the buying and selling process (farm la- 
borers, food processors, and retailers, for instance). 
Market transfers can realize efficiencies; however, 
equity questions can arise, including the treatment 
or nontreatment of instream uses. 

Questions are also being raised over whether a 
market concept would really result in the highest 
and best use of the resource. It may be more a 
sign of comparative purchasing power among sec- 
tors than an optimum use pattern for the benefit of 

the whole society. The urban sector, for example, 
could probably outbid agriculture for a given water 
supply, but water used to irrigate lawns or wash 
cars could be regarded as having less economic and 
social value than water used to produce food. 

To date, it appears that a true "market" is unlikely 
to evolve on a statewide basis in California. How- 
ever, the fact that water managers and water con- 
stituent groups have begun to think in "market" 
terms has already led to numerous innovative sug- 
gestions for water transfers and water sharing. In 
late 1986, DWR published a catalog listing 30 dif- 
ferent proposals that were known of at that time. 
More ideas are sure to surface as time passes. 

DWR will be publishing a guidebook in 1988 to 
assist those interested in transferring water. The 
guide will outline the approvals required and offer 
suggestions on how such approvals can be obtained. 
DWR is also available to provide technical assis- 
tance on specific transfer proposals. 

New Technology for 
Increasing Water Supplies 

California's water agencies and research institutions 
have for many years devoted considerable effort to 
investigating means of augmenting water supplies by 
various technological approaches. The following 
sections describe the present situation regarding the 
potential for these sources or methods. 

Waste Water Reclamation 

Important benefits can be gained by reclaiming and 
reusing water that would otherwise be disposed of. 
Using water more than once is a conservation 
measure, and it can also defer or eliminate the 
need to develop new fresh-water supplies. When a 
municipal waste water collection system nears flow 
capacity, enlargement can be postponed by reclaim- 
ing the water in a satellite treatment plant near the 
place of use. Similarly, when an ocean outfall 
system reaches discharge capacity, reclamation and 
reuse of a treatment plant's effluent may lower the 
outflow and defer system expansion. 

Reclaimed water in California is used for various 
purposes — among them crop and landscape wa- 
tering, industrial cooling, and ground water re- 


A 10-year, multiagency research project in Monterey County 
confirmed the safety of using reclaimed waste water to irri- 
gate food crops. 

charge. Industries sometimes recycle water at a 
facility to recover heat or materials, to save water, 
and to eliminate the cost of discharge to a munici- 
pal system. Waste water can be treated to drink- 
ing-water quality, but the higher cost of such treat- 
ment makes this step less feasible when water of 
equal quality is available from other sources. 

More treated municipal waste water is now pro- 
duced in this State than is being reclaimed; how- 
ever, water reclamation and reuse are on a gradual 
upswing. In 1985, about 250,000 acre-feet of 
reclaimed water from municipal sources was put to 
direct beneficial use. Urban water managers con- 
tinue to seek suitable locations to replace drinking- 
quality water with treated municipal waste water for 
such applications as landscape and crop irrigation. 
The greatest potential for wider use exists in the 
coastal areas of Southern California where hun- 
dreds of thousands of acre-feet of treated water 
are discharged to the ocean every year. Statewide 
use of reclaimed water could reach 500,000 acre- 
feet per year by 2010 under favorable conditions. 

Some factors stand in the way of the growth of 
water reclamation projects. The principal difficulty 
is that opportunities for direct application are often 
situated far from the point of supply, and the 
added cost of conveyance facilities and separate 

distribution systems increases the price of the re- 
claimed water above that of alternative fresh-water 
sources. Further, in many such projects, the users 
are expected to repay the full cost. 

Acceptance by the public and the health authorities 
is another factor. Surveys have shown that water 
users are often willing to rely on the judgment of 
their water utility officials, and where uncertainty is 
present, educational and public relations efforts 
help consumers to more readily support reuse of 
treated waste water. Use of reclaimed water to 
recharge ground water basins may increase signifi- 
cantly, as concerns about public health effects and 
the cost of additional water treatment are resolved. 

Watershed Management 

Watershed management can protect developed 
supplies by reducing sediment accumulation in res- 
ervoirs and increasing streamflow by controlling the 
growth of vegetation. By reducing the density of 
shrub and tree cover and allowing grasses to grow 
back naturally, vegetative water use is reduced and 
runoff increases. Where reservoirs catch and store 
the increased runoff, water supplies are augmented. 
Water supplies gained by such means, although 
small in relation to total runoff, can cost less than 
supplies developed by building new reservoirs. 
However, extensive areas would have to be man- 
aged to significantly increase statewide water sup- 
plies. Vegetation management is now being used 
principally to improve range, reduce wildfires, and 
enhance wildlife habitat. 

Weather Modification 

Research has established that rain and snow from 
clouds with the right moisture and temperature 
characteristics can be greatly increased by weather 
modification. Many investigators believe that aver- 
age annual precipitation might be increased by 
about 15 percent. Weather modification has been 
conducted along the western slopes of the Sierra 
Nevada and some of the Coast Ranges for several 
years. However, precipitation will increase only 
when storm clouds are present to be treated, which 
means that the technique is more successful in 
years of near-normal rainfall. Weather modifica- 
tion is most effective when combined with vegeta- 
tion management to prevent shrubs and trees from 
taking up the additional precipitation. 


A recent DWR study determined that weather 
modification was a feasible method of augmenting 
water supplies and hydroelectric energy production 
for the State Water Project. The area investigated 
was the Feather River watershed above Lake 
Oroville. A project is being designed with the ob- 
jective of increasing snowpack during years when 
reservoir storage space is available. An operation 
plan and environmental assessment report will be 
developed for the project in 1987-1988. 


The possibility of finding an economical way to 
desalt ocean water and brackish water has intrigued 
engineers, politicians, and the public for many 
years. Much research has been done and, in some 
parts of the world, desalting is an important source 
of water. Unfortunately, it is still too expensive for 
all but a few places and situations in California. 
Present desalting processes can remove high per- 
centages of organic and inorganic constituents from 
water, including sea water. Moreover, fresh water 
obtained from desalting processes can be tailored 
(by careful selection of process type and design) to 
meet the water requirements of almost any benefi- 
cial use. Worldwide, desalting capacity is about 
3 billion gallons per day in 3,500 plants. In the 
United States, about 750 desalting plants have a 
combined capacity of 212 million gallons per day. 
In California, desalting is used to reclaim brackish 
ground water, desalt sea water, and treat water for 
industries such as the electronics industry that 
require process water of high purity. 

The principal limitation of desalting is its high cost, 
which is directly linked to its high energy require- 
ment. In California, this cost factor has greatly 
restricted the use of desalination. Of the various 
desalting techniques, the membrane processes 
(reverse osmosis and electrodialysis) offer the best 
potential to further reduce costs and thus increase 
use. Extensive research is being conducted in the 
private and public sectors to improve the perform- 
ance of membranes used to remove salt from 
water. Future improvements in the various distilla- 
tion methods of desalting are likely to be less sig- 
nificant than those related to membrane desalting. 

In California, desalting technology has five viable 

(1) Reverse osmosis and electrodialysis membrane 
desalting of brackish ground water can be used to 
supply drinking water. This may or may not be 
related to the brackish nature of the water but may 
instead be a case in which a particu-lar constituent 
(natural or otherwise) must be re-moved to meet 
health or other standards. In the Arlington ground 
water basin in Southern California, a project is in 
the planning stage to desalt about 6,000 acre-feet 
of local ground water a year, and in Orange 
County, a 1-million-gallon-per-day reverse osmosis 
demonstration plant is being con-structed. At both 
sites, the major water quality concern is high nitrate 
concentrations in the local ground water, a desalt- 
ing application that is likely to find wider accep- 
tance as new, more efficient membranes are devel- 

(2) Reverse osmosis can be used to reclaim do- 
mestic waste water before it is recharged into 
ground water basins. The best example of this in 

Banks of reverse osmosis units remove sails from brackish 
municipal waste water for the Orange County Water District 
at its Water Factory 21 . 


California is the Orange County Water District's 
Water Factory 21, which treats 15 million gallons 
of waste water a day in an advanced waste water 
treatment and desalting plant and injects it into the 
local ground water basin. 

(3) As water pollution standards become more 
stringent, California industries can use desalting to 
meet discharge requirements. In the San Joaquin 
Valley, the olive-processing industry, whose dis- 
charges are heavily saline, is studying desalting as a 
method of reducing waste water and supplementing 
its process water supplies. 

(4) Throughout the State, many industries use 
desalting to develop process water required for 
manufacturing paper, pharmaceuticals, certain 
foods, and electronic components. 

(5) Finally, sea-water desalting is used at locations 
such as the Pacific Gas & Electric Company's 
Diablo Canyon Power Plant, where a sea-water 
reverse osmosis plant provides in-plant water. In 
the San Joaquin Valley, many agencies have stud- 
ied the disposal of brackish agricultural drainage 
water for decades. DWR has investigated 
reclamation of agricultural drainage water by re- 
verse osmosis since the early 1970s. Discovery of 
selenium in this water and the ill effects this con- 
stituent has on aquatic wildlife have increased inter- 
est in reclaiming drainage water, rather than dis- 
charging it to the ocean or estuary. In California, 
the potential exists to reclaim several hundred 
thousand acre-feet of drainage water per year 
through a combination of desalting, salt-harvesting, 
and power production from salt-gradient solar 
ponds. Studies on these activities are continuing. 

Although the use of desalting to supplement water 
supplies will continue to be guided by local circum- 
stances, it is likely to increase as the costs of more 
conventional water supplies rise and the expense of 
desalting (particularly reverse osmosis and 
electrodialysis) decreases. 

Long-Range Weather Forecasting 

Accurate advance weather information — extend- 
ing weeks, months, and even seasons ahead — 
would be invaluable in planning water operations in 
all types of years — wet, dry, and normal. Had it 
been known, for instance, that 1976 and 1977 

were to be extremely dry years or that the drought 
would end in 1977, water operations would have 
been planned somewhat differently and the impacts 
of the drought could have been lessened. 

The potential benefits of dependable long-range 
weather forecasts could probably be calculated in 
hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly even in 
billions. The value would be national. For this 
and other reasons, research programs to investigate 
and develop such forecasting capability would most 
appropriately be conducted at the national level. 
The National Weather Service and the Scripps 
Institute of Oceanography are engaged in making 
such forecasts. However, their predictions are not 
sufficiently reliable for project operation. 

Deferred Projects 

For environmental, economic, or financial reasons, 
some reservoir projects once seriously considered 
for construction have been deferred. Prominent 
among these are Enlarged Shasta Reservoir, the 
Marysville Reservoir Project, the Glenn Reservoir 
Project, and diversions from the Eel River. 

Shasta Lake Enlargement 

In recent years, the Bureau of Reclamation and the 
Department of Water Resources have studied the 
feasibility of enlarging Shasta Dam. One alternative 
studied was to increase the height of the existing 
dam by 200 feet, which would enlarge the reser- 
voir's storage capacity from the present 4.5 million 
acre-feet to 14 million acre-feet and increase the 
dependable water supply by about 1.4 million acre- 
feet per year. However, even though the unit cost 
of water would be relatively low, the capital cost 
would be substantial, and California's water inter- 
ests have concluded that other needs should take 
priority over the additional storage of an enlarged 
Shasta Lake. These needs include developing 
more offstream storage south of the Delta, solving 
San Joaquin Valley drainage problems, and plan- 
ning for the expansion of the CVP aqueduct system 
in the San Joaquin Valley (the Mid- Valley Canal). 
As a result, the Bureau shifted its planning empha- 
sis toward conveying and protecting the quality of 
existing supplies before developing new supplies. 
DWR, responding to growing recognition among 


water contractors of increasing project costs, shifted 
its planning to smaller, less expensive projects. 

Marysville Dam and Reservoir 

Marysville Reservoir on the Yuba River, originally 
authorized as a Corps of Engineers project in the 
1960s, was not developed by the Corps, and in 
1982 the proposal was reanalyzed as a possible 
local project of the Yuba County Water Agency in 
partnership with the Kern County Water Agency. 

Later, DWR investigated a multipurpose project to 
provide power, flood control, and additional con- 
servation yield for the SWP, by using the Corps' 
plan for the Parks Bar and Dry Creek Dam sites 
(about 15 miles upstream of the city of Marysville) 
and updating the construction cost estimates with 
1985 values. In 1981, the voters of Yuba County 
rejected a bond issue for this project. Because of 
the apparent high unit cost of water from the pro- 
ject and the lack of local support, the proposal is 
currently inactive. 

Glenn Reservoir Project 

During the 1960s and 1970s, the State studied 
various possibilities for developing storage reservoirs 
on Thomes Creek and Stony Creek on the western 
side of the Sacramento Valley. Three different 
reservoir sites were considered for various sizes, 
combinations, and configurations. These were the 
Paskenta, Newville, and Glenn reservoirs. Under 
one routing of Eel River imports, the reservoir(s) 
would have been used to store water from the 

North Coast. With the slowdown in agricultural 
demands, and the prospect of more favorable alter- 
natives, planning for these projects has been de- 
ferred indefinitely. 

Eel River Exports 

The California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, enacted 
in 1973, precluded development of many of the 
North Coast's major streams. The act also pro- 
vided that the Department of Water Resources, 
after an initial 12-year period, would report on the 
need for water supply and flood control projects on 
the Eel River and its tributaries. 

On August 30, 1985, DWR reported by leuer to 
the Legislature: "Based upon the situation today, 
we see no reason to seek legislation to withdraw 
the Eel River from the Wild and Scenic River's 
System. This is a decision to be considered by 
future generations." The letter also said: "... it is 
our view that we would not look to the Eel River 
as a practical source of additional water supply 
within the near future, irrespective of its wild and 
scenic river status. Possible projects in the Central 
Valley appear more favorable at this time than 
development of the Eel. . . . Given California's 
water situation, it seems neither appropriate nor 
possible for one generation to fully determine or 
bind the actions of a future generation. It is cer- 
tainly possible society may eventually wish to de- 
velop the Eel River. However, for today, mainte- 
nance of the status quo seems appropriate; that is, 
leave the Eel in the Wild and Scenic River System, 
subject to future review." 



'^J*;*^^- ■ 







S/ls pointed out in the previous chapter, much of 
the future growth in statewide water demand will be 
met from the joint facilities of the CVP-SWP 
system. More than 75 percent of the State's popu- 
lation can be served from the system. Neverthe- 
less, communities not connected to the State and 
federal facilities are experiencing growth, and they 
will, in most cases, meet their water needs through 
some type of local project. And even communities 
served by the joint system often find it in their in- 
terest to develop some portion of their future needs 
from local sources. 

Local sources of fresh water exist in much of Cali- 
fornia, but, because many potential sites for new 
dams and reservoirs are environmentally sensitive 
and difficult to develop, the cost of developing 
them tends to be prohibitive. Rural communities 
are particularly hard hit because their ability to 
repay loans for new water projects is limited. For 
years, the sale of hydroelectric power generated by 
dam and reservoir projects often helped offset 
much of the construction cost. More recently, 
some water project proponents have also attempted 
to sell a portion of a project's developed water sup- 
ply on an interim basis to offset costs even further. 
Currently, however, the power market is very com- 
petitive, and opportunities to sell interim water are 

Despite economic and environmental obstacles, 
local water agencies are proceeding with plans to 
develop new sources of water and power. Further- 
more, because of the constraints on traditional 
surface water development in California, some 
agencies are using other ways to help meet their 
increasing water needs, including conjunctive use of 

surface and ground water, waste water reclamation, 
water conservation, and transferring and exchanging 
water with other agencies. Some water agencies 
have obtained financial assistance for local water 
development projects from grants and low-interest 
loan programs made available through the Davis- 
Grunsky program, approved by California voters in 
1960, and the State's Safe Drinking Water pro- 
grams, beginning with another voter-approved 
measure. Proposition 3 (1976) and continuing with 
Propositions 28 (1984) and 55 (1986). Local 
water conservation and ground water recharge 
projects are provided financial assistance under 
Proposition 44, authorized by the voters in 1986. 

This chapter discusses proposed local water devel- 
opment in various parts of California. 

North Coast Region 

The North Coast region has California's wettest 
climate, with annual rainfall averaging from 40 
inches to well over 100 inches. The region is also 
home to more than 1,200 miles of State and feder- 
ally designated wild and scenic rivers. This abun- 
dance of water has historically supported the 
timber, fishing, and recreation industries, which 
form the economic base of the region. 

Today, the region's most pressing water resource 
problems are not so much the availability of water 
as the quality of water supplies. Major storage 
facilities such as Lake Pillsbury on the Eel River 
and Ruth Lake on the Mad River contribute to the 
turbidity of water supplies during dry or critical 
years when flows into the low reservoirs cut through 
the deposits of silt. Additionally, sedimentation of 
these reservoirs appears to be occurring faster than 

New Spicer Meadow Reservoir in Calaveras County is being enlarged by the Calaveras County Water 
District as part of its North Fork Stanislaus River Project. 


expected. This trend will eventually reduce avail- 
able water supplies. 

To address the siltation problem, a task force has 
been formed by the Eel-Russian River Commission. 
It will determine the source of the sedimentation 
problem and what can be done to reduce it. 

The Smith River coastal plain is expected to de- 
velop rapidly in response to construction of a new 
State prison at Fort Dick. The Departments of 
Water Resources and Fish and Game are currently 
studying the water supply and wildlife habitat im- 
pacts of the prison. 

Other north coastal communities, such as Orick on 
Redwood Creek, rely on shallow ground water de- 
veloped on floodplains for local water supplies. 
These shallow aquifers provide for a natural filtra- 
tion of the sediment-laden North Coast rivers. In 
these communities, the quality of water supplies is 
again the foremost concern because septic leaching 
and well contamination are becoming more preva- 

In the Humboldt Bay area, 40 percent of the local 
water supply is used by pulp mills. During a 
drought, the mills are forced to curtail their use of 
water to maintain an adequate domestic water sup- 
ply. Other communities, such as Willits, are look- 
ing to further development of ground water supplies 
to meet their expanding needs. 

Sacramento Valley 

The Sacramento Valley receives ample water sup- 
plies from Sierra Nevada streamflow and ground 
water basins underlying the valley. Over the years, 
local water needs have been met by direct stream 
diversions, construction of storage reservoirs, and 
ground water pumping. In the future, however, 
urban and agricultural growth could require the 
development of additional water storage projects. 
Proposed projects under consideration include: 

■ The Garden Bar reservoir project (on the 
Bear River above Camp Far West Reservoir), pro- 
posed by the South Sutter Water District, which 
would develop a new firm water supply and gener- 
ate hydroelectricity. It has been proposed that part 

of the water and all of the power generated by this 
project be sold to other agencies. 

The Blue Ridge reservoir project on Cache 
Creek, proposed by the Yolo County Flood Control 
and Water Conservation District, which would 
greatly increase local surface water storage and al- 
low Yolo and Solano counties to meet anticipated 
water demands beyond 2000. It would also facili- 
tate flood control at Clear Lake and provide major 
flood control along lower Cache Creek. 

San Francisco Bay Area 

The North Bay region has traditionally received 
water from local streamflow, where annual rainfall 
averaging 20 to 40 inches is normally sufficient to 
meet regional demands. During the 1976-77 
drought, however, the region's water supplies were 
dangerously depleted, strict water rationing became 
mandatory, and a temporary pipeline was laid 
across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to import 
emergency supplies. Since then, to augment its 
available supplies, the Marin Municipal Water Dis- 
trict has constructed Soulajule Dam and enlarged 
its Kent Lake facility to increase surface water stor- 
age. This district is also changing its contract with 
the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) for 
Russian River water from an interruptible supply to 
a firm supply. The North Marin County Water 
District is negotiating with SCWA to increase its 
water supply from the Russian River. 

In the South Bay region, water demands long ago 
exceeded local water supplies. Consequently, the 
city of San Francisco and the East Bay Municipal 
Utility District (EBMUD) have relied on Sierra Ne- 
vada water sources, while Contra Costa Water Dis- 
trict (CCWD), under contract with the U.S. Bureau 
of Reclamation, has taken its water from the Sacra- 
mento-San Joaquin Delta. The SWP also supplies 
water to the eastern and southern portions of the 

Today, the development of urban areas immedi- 
ately surrounding San Francisco Bay has stabilized, 
but suburban areas farther out are growing. EB- 
MUD has contracted with the Bureau of Reclama- 
tion to divert water from the American River — a 
contract currently being litigated to determine the 
point of diversion. Alameda County Water District 


Soulajule Reservoir, Marin County, was enlarged to 10,700 acre-feet in the late 1970s by the Marin Municipal Water District to 
help fill growing needs in its service area. " Soulajule," from the coastal Miwok Indians, loosely translates as "filled cradle." 

is now analyzing alternative water supply sources 
because, by 2000, its water requirements are ex- 
pected to surpass existing reserve supplies. CCWD 
is actively considering the Los Vaqueros reservoir 
project to improve water delivery reliability and 
water quality in its service area. This project could 
be expanded to help other Bay Area water agencies 
meet their growing water needs. Finally, current 
projections by the San Francisco Water Department 
(SFWD) indicate that additional water, beyond the 
amount provided by the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct, 
will be needed by the late 1990s. Accordingly, 
SFWD has begun a two-year resource study to 

analyze water needs and water management alter- 
natives for San Francisco. 

Central Sierra Nevada 
and Foothills Region 

The central Sierra Nevada is well known for its 
Mother Lode region and the great gold rush that 
began there in 1849. That quest for gold led to 
some of the earliest development of California's 
surface water supplies, resulting in construction of 
widespread ditch and flume systems to divert the 
water from high Sierra streams needed for hydrau- 
lic mining. Some of these systems remain in use 


Many wooden flumes such as this were built in the Sierra 
Nevada to carry water for gold mining. Some of these 
early-day structures are still used for irrigation. 

As a result of accelerating population growth, many 
Sierra Nevada foothill and mountain communities 
are experiencing water quality problems, deteriorat- 
ing water systems, and water shortages. As evi- 
denced during the 1976-77 drought, when many 
local communities were forced to adopt severe 
water rationing programs, surface water systems in 
this region lack adequate storage to serve as 
dependable sources of water. Furthermore, due to 
the region's geologic formations, characterized by 
fractured rock, ground water supplies are largely 
unreliable. Consequently, local water supplies fluc- 
tuate widely. 

To protect their individual water rights and voice 
their collective water needs, 11 Sierra Nevada 
counties have formed the Mountain Counties Water 
Resources Association. Currently, the association is 
pursuing legislation to provide financial support for 
local water supply development. The Department 
of Water Resources has provided the association 
information on water development planning and is 

working with individual counties to estimate future 
water needs. Several Sierra Nevada water and 
power development projects (mostly consisting of 
dams and reservoirs) are now in the planning or 
construction stage, including these: 

The North Fork Stanislaus River Project, 
being built by the Calaveras County Water District, 
is scheduled to be completed by 1990. The pro- 
ject, which is primarily a power generating facility, 
will initially provide 5,000 acre-feet of "new" water 
annually, as well as serve as a continuing source of 
revenue when operations begin. The Northern 
California Power Agency will purchase the hydro- 
electric power developed. 

■ The South Fork American River Project 
could provide El Dorado Irrigation District with up 
to 30,000 acre-feet of water a year to augment its 
current inadequate supplies. Generation of hydro- 
electric power would help pay for the project. 
Inability to obtain financing has left the future of 
this project uncertain. 

■ The Middle Bar (Mokelumne River) Project, 
now under consideration by the Amador County 
Water Agency, would include construction of a 
434,000-acre-foot-capacity reservoir and an 
80-megawatt powerhouse. The water supply devel- 
oped would serve western Amador County. This 
proposal is the focus of considerable environmental 

The Devil's Nose (Mokelumne River) Pro- 
ject, now being studied by the Amador County 
Water Department for local water and hydroelectric 
production. This project, which could yield 35,000 
acre-feet of water annually to help Amador County 
meet future needs, is also encountering environ- 
mental difficulties. 

Besides these projects, the Cosumnes River Water 
and Power Authority is considering building as 
many as six new dams to provide Amador, 
El Dorado, and San Joaquin counties with more 
water and electric power. Recent planning called 
for each county to receive 10,000 acre-feet of 
nonfirm water in Stage I, and 20,000 acre-feet of 
firm water in Stage II. This project is experiencing 
difficulty in obtaining financing. 


Also, at the request of the Legislature, the Geor- 
getown Divide Public Utility District in El Dorado 
County and DWR are analyzing various future 
water supply alternatives for the Georgetown area. 

San Joaquin Valley 

For more than a century, San Joaquin Valley water 
users have depended on runoff from eastside 
streams and ground water from local wells to meet 
their water requirements. Water agencies such as 
the Turlock, Modesto, and South San Joaquin irri- 
gation districts have constructed reservoirs and 
power plants in the Sierra Nevada foothills, along 
with extensive canal systems, to enable valley farm- 
ers to supplement ground water supplies with sur- 
face water. More recently, the CVP and the SWP 
have added canal systems to import surface water 
for agricultural areas in the valley. 

Even with these extensive surface water supply pro- 
jects, however, many of the valley's ground water 
basins have remained in a state of overdraft. Some 
water agencies have been able to contract with the 
SWP or CVP to import surface water into over- 
drafted areas. The Kern County Water Agency is 
developing new ground water banking programs 
(discussed in greater detail in Chapter 5). 

Also under consideration by valley water officials is 
a joint proposal by the Kings River Conservation 
District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to 
raise the height of Pine Flat Dam on the Kings 
River. Additional storage capacity resulting from 
this project would be an alternative to the proposed 
controversial Rodgers Crossing reservoir sited on an 
environmentally sensitive stretch of the Kings River. 
In recently proposed federal legislation to designate 
a major portion of the Kings River as wild and 
scenic, the Rodgers Crossing site is included in a 
Special Management Area to be administered as 
though it were part of the National Wild and 
Scenic River System. 

Two other reservoir enlargements are being studied 
by the Corps of Engineers at the request of local 
water supply agencies. Success Reservoir on the 
Tule River would be increased in capacity from 
85,000 acre-feet to 106,000 acre-feet by redesign- 
ing the spillway. Negotiations are under way with 
Lower Tule River Irrigation District to share the 

cost of the feasibility study. On the Kaweah River, 
Lake Kaweah would be expanded in capacity from 
150,000 acre-feet to 193,000 acre-feet by increas- 
ing the height of Terminus Dam 21 feet. The 
Corps is also studying a flood detention dam on 
nearby Dry Creek that would be operated in con- 
junction with Lake Kaweah to increase flood pro- 
tection for the city of Visalia. The Kaweah Delta 
Water Conservation District would share the cost of 
the proposed feasibility study. 

Central Coast Region 

Historically, the Central Coast region has relied on 
local ground water supplies and a few reservoirs to 
meet its water use requirements. Recently, how- 
ever, population increases in portions of this region 
outside the service areas of existing or planned 
SWP or CVP delivery systems are creating water 
demands that existing supplies cannot meet. Pro- 
posals to augment supplies include the Monterey 
Peninsula Water Management District's plan to 
construct a new dam just downstream of San 
Clemente Dam on the Carmel River to increase 
surface water supplies for the cities of Carmel, 
Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Seaside. 

In the Salinas Valley, the Monterey County Flood 
Control and Water Conservation District is studying 
various means of combating sea-water intrusion 
into coastal ground water aquifers that is caused by 
heavy ground water pumping. Under consideration 



San Clemente Dam, built in 1921 on the Carmel River, 
Monterey County, would be inundated by a proposed 
29,000-acre-foot reservoir to serve the Monterey Peninsula. 


are plans to (1) use Salinas River water instead of 
local ground water to irrigate crops near Castroville 
and (2) import ground water from wells located 
south of Salinas for municipal use at Fort Ord and 
the community of Marina. 

In nearby Pajaro Valley, the Pajaro Valley Water 
Management Agency is reviewing results of ground 
water studies that identify local overdraft problems. 
The agency is also examining its need for supple- 
mental water. 

South Coast Region 

The South Coast region, with its semiarid climate 
and intermittent rivers, relied principally on ground 
water supplies through the late 1800s and early 
1900s. As the region's population expanded, how- 
ever, water demands rapidly outstripped local water 
supplies. The city of Los Angeles was first to look 
to the importation of water to meet increasing 
water needs. In 1913, it began to import water 
from the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. De- 
spite this farsightedness, the city and other local 
water agencies soon needed additional water. This 
need led to the formation of The Metropolitan 
Water District of Southern California (MWD), 
which eventually imported water from the Colorado 
River to meet the region's growing demands. And, 
most recently, the SWP has been added to move 
Northern California water into the region. 

Today, continued growth in the South Coast region 
is creating demands for water exceeding current 
supplies. Thus, many local water agencies are 
seeking to supplement their current supplies. 

MWD has a number of water supply augmentation 
projects under evaluation. The loss of 662,000 
acre-feet of annual Colorado River entitlement 
water and delays encountered by the SWP in 
efforts to augment SWP supplies have prompted 
MWD to explore various means of obtaining more 
water. MWD recognizes that not all the projects 
can be expected to be developed. 

Included with projects under study are water 
conservation and transfer programs in cooperation 

■ Imperial Irrigation District, which could pro- 
vide MWD with an additional annual water supply 
of possibly 250,000 acre-feet per year. 

Palo Verde Irrigation District, which could 
create for MWD a dry-year supply of Colorado 
River water up to 100,000 acre-feet. 

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which 
could conserve up to 117,000 acre-feet of water 
per year by lining the Ail-American Canal and the 
remaining 38 unlined miles of the Coachella Canal. 
Only about 34,000 acre-feet per year is needed for 
an obligation to Mexico. 

Besides these water conservation and transfer 
programs, MWD is investigating the feasibility of 
storing in Lake Mead portions of its Colorado 
River entitlements in years when surplus water is 
available from the SWP. MWD could also pump, 
as a one-time use in emergencies or during a water 
shortage, about 500,000 acre-feet of ground water 
currently banked in the Coachella, Chino, and San 
Gabriel basins. Replenishment of such a supply 
would depend on availability of surplus SWP or 
Colorado River supplies over several years. 

Farther south, the Fallbrook Public Utility District 
and U.S. Marine Corps representatives at Camp 
Pendleton have been proposing for many years 
construction of a dam and reservoir on the Santa 
Margarita River to provide local residents with in- 
creased water supplies. Another local water 
agency, the San Diego County Water Authority, 
proposes to build Pamo Dam, on Santa Ysabel 
Creek, which would store 130,000 acre-feet of 
emergency water supplies. (Of that amount, 
100,000 acre-feet would be specifically set aside 
for use during a drought or after a major earth- 
quake, either of which could disrupt aqueduct 
deliveries for several months.) Most of the water 
stored behind this dam would be pumped from the 
San Diego Aqueduct. Start of construction of the 
dam has been delayed until environmental issues 
have been resolved. 

About 25 miles from San Diego, near Escondido, 
Ramona Water District is building Ramona Dam, 
which will be able to store 11,000 acre-feet of 
imported water to augment existing supplies. This 
water, like the Pamo Dam supplies, would also be 
valuable in a drought or the aftermath of a large 


Artist's rendition of proposed Pamo Dam in San Diego County. The reservoir would store emergency supplies pumped from the 
San Diego Aqueduct. 


^> ^ ...^' 


^robamv no water problems in California have 
involved more investigations or generated more 
controversy than those involving the Delta of the 
Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. The maze of 
islands and channels lying at the confluence of 
these two large rivers has become the focal point 
for a wide variety of water-related issues. Many 
different interests have a vital stake in the Delta: 
farmers, fish and wildlife, environmentalists, boat- 
ers, navigation, railroads, highways, and the people 
and industries that receive their water from the two 
large export systems, the Central Valley Project and 
the State Water Project. 

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, an area of 
700,000 acres, was once a tule marsh fed by winter 
floodwaters, snowmelt, and tidal flows entering 
through San Francisco Bay. During flood season, 
the Delta became a great inland lake; when the 
floodwater receded, the network of sloughs and 
channels reappeared throughout the marsh. 

Reclamation of the Delta began in the 1850s. By 
1930, virtually all the marsh had vanished, to be 
replaced by farms growing barley, corn, pears, as- 
paragus, and tomatoes. Many miles of entirely new 
channels had been dredged, and farmlands, small 
communities, highways, and utilities were protected 
— often tenuously — by 1,100 miles of levees, 
many of them built on peat soils. 

Export of water directly from the Delta first took 
place in 1940 with the completion of the Contra 
Costa Canal, a unit of the Central Valley Project. 
In 1951, water was being exported at the CVP's 
Tracy pumping plant, supplying the Delta-Mendota 

Canal. The State Water Project began pumping 
from the southwestern Delta in 1967, and pumping 
from the northwestern Delta into the North Bay 
Aqueduct will begin late in 1987. 

The future need for improved water transfer effi- 
ciency across the Delta resulted in the U.S. Bureau 
of Reclamation constructing the Delta Cross Chan- 
nel between the Sacramento and Mokelumne rivers 
in 1951 to protect the quality of its Delta-Mendota 
exports. When the Slate Water Project's Delta 
pumps came on line in the late 1960s, it was recog- 
nized that facilities would eventually be required in 
the Delta to improve water transfer efficiency and 
to control salinity caused by tidal inflow entering 
the western Delta. The need and authorization for 
these facilities was recognized in the Burns-Porter 
Act, approved by the voters in 1960. 

However, specific proposals to accomplish these 
objectives have generated much controversy, and 
agreement has not been reached upon the best ap- 
proach to mitigating deteriorating conditions in the 
Delta. As a consequence, throughout this time — 
since export pumping began — conditions in the 
Delta have stagnated or worsened. Fisheries de- 
clines are well documented, although the causes are 
not yet fully understood. Water quality continues 
to be a major operational problem. And Delta 
levees continue to fail at an accelerating rate. No 
one seems satisfied with today's conditions, and a 
consensus appears to be evolving that some form of 
channel improvements is needed. At this writing, 
DWR is moving ahead with environmental impact 
evaluations for alternative improvements in both the 
southern and northern Delta. 

Looking west across the farms and waterways of the Delta. Sycamore Slough is in the foreground. 


I^T.tJLl <i.I>ciii((n«tedl>yHedC«lor. 


Reverse Flows 

The expression "reverse flows" has come to be 
used to characterize a Delta problem that stems 
from the lack of capacity in certain channels. 
Water supplies for export by the CVP and the SWP 
are obtained from surplus Delta flows, when avail- 
able, and from upstream reservoir releases, when 
Delta inflow is low and surplus flows are unavail- 
able. These releases enter the Delta via the Sacra- 
mento River and then flow by various routes to the 
pumps in the southern Delta. Some of these re- 
leases are drawn to the SWP and CVP pumps 
through interior Delta channels, facilitated by the 
CVP's Delta Cross Channel. Unfortunately, be- 
cause the channels aren't large enough, insufflcient 
amounts of water pass through the northern Delta 

The remaining water flows on down the Sacra- 
mento River to its confluence with the San Joaquin 
River in the western Delta. When fresh-water out- 
flow is low, water in the western Delta becomes 
brackish because it mixes with saltier ocean water 
entering as tidal inflow and is drawn upstream into 
the San Joaquin River and other channels by the 
pumping plants. Reverse flow disorients migratory 
striped bass, salmon, and steelhead. Reverse flow 
further increases the impacts on flsh by pulling 
small fish from the western Delta nursery area into 
the pumping plants. The massive amount of water 
driven in and out of the Delta by tidal action 
dwarfs the actual fresh-water outflow and consider- 
ably complicates the reverse-flow issue. 

Reverse flow could be moderated or eliminated by 
increasing the transfer efficiency of the northern 





TO MEET D-1485 






Delta Cross Channel, shown here under construction in the 
1950s, diverts Sacramento River water to the Mokelumne 
River. The water then flows across the Delta to the export 
pumps near Tracy. 

Delta channels. Also, water supply for the SWP 
would be considerably increased. Currently, during 
the operational periods that cause reverse flow, 
more water than is needed for export must be re- 
leased from project reservoirs to repel intruding sea 
water and to maintain required water quality in 
western Delta channels and meet export quality 
standards. The amount of extra outflow required is 
substantial. An efficient means of transfer through 
the northern Delta would make better use of up- 
stream fresh-water storage, and the SWP could 
gain up to 400,000 acre-feet more per year in de- 
pendable supply. Delta fisheries and Delta water 
quality would also benefit. 

Levees and Channels 

With each passing year, the fate of the Delta is- 
lands becomes more uncertain. Today the centers 
of some islands are as much as 25 feet below sea 
level because of a continuing loss of peat soil from 
oxidation, compaction, wind erosion, and other 
causes. As a result, the forces for levee failure 
keep mounting. There is a constant threat of 
earthquakes in or near the Delta that may 
detrimentally affect levees or may cause them to 

fail. Moreover, farm economic difficulties have 
limited the financial ability of the reclamation dis- 
tricts to adequately maintain and improve levees. 
Levee failures have become common. Since 1980, 
there have been 24 such occurrences. Nearly all 
the islands involved have been reclaimed. 

Protection of certain islands from flooding is par- 
ticularly important because of the threat to life and 
property, the presence of utilities and highways, 
and water quality degradation from the potential 
intrusion of brackish water. As directed by the 
Legislature, DWR is currently studying the effects 
of levee failures on highways and water supplies. 

Long-term water supply problems could occur 
when a Delta levee breaks, if an island were al- 
lowed to remain flooded and no remedial action 
were taken. Evaporation from a flooded island 
exceeds the consumptive use of an equivalent area 
of irrigated farmland by about one or two feet per 
year. This increase would require the State and 
federal water projects to release more upstream 
water from storage to repel salinity intrusion. Per- 
manent flooding of certain islands in the western 
Delta (where brackish water and fresh water meet) 
could increase the upstream movement of ocean 
salts, requiring the projects to provide more outflow 
to repel the salts and maintain water quality in the 
Delta and at the pumps. 

From 1980 to 1986, about $100 million was spent on main- 
tenance, repair, and rehabilitation of Delta levees. 





The State administration is supporting legislation in 
the 1987-1988 session that would provide $100 
million over a 10-year period to initiate a levee 
rehabilitation program. Some of the money would 
be disbursed through subventions and a portion 

would be spent by DWR on levees of particular 

Lack of adequate channel capacity in certain loca- 
tions also aggravates flood problems. Channel 


restrictions on the South Fork of the Mokelumne 
River contributed to the flooding of five northern 
Delta islands and tracts in 1986. It appears that 
channel enlargement would provide major flood 
control benefits and would also significantly allevi- 
ate conditions causing reverse flows in the western 
Delta during the critical late spring and summer 
months. This is being addressed in the northern 
Delta planning efforts now getting under way and 
discussed later in this chapter. 

Fisheries and Diversions 

The Delta fishery is affected by inflow that is re- 
duced by upstream uses, by diversions that bypass 
the Delta, and by direct diversions from the Delta 
itself. Direct diversions include those by industry 
in the western Delta; 1,800 local agricultural irriga- 
tors; the North Bay and Vallejo aqueducts, serving 
the North Bay area; the Contra Costa Canal, serv- 
ing the southern San Francisco Bay Area; and the 

Delta levees are often battered by high tides, heavy river flows, and wind-driven waves, particularly in winter. This Jersey 
Island levee withstood heavy weather and high water during December 1983. 


southern Delta diversions by the CVP and SWP, 
which serve the southern Bay Area, the San Joa- 
quin Valley, and Southern California. 

ing Plant by installing four additional pumps, 
project is discussed in Chapter 5. 


This 46-pound striped bass was caught in the Delta south of 
Decker Island in September 1987. 

Fish screens and protection facilities have been 
constructed for the North Bay and Vallejo aque- 
ducts, the CVP's Tracy Pumping Plant, and the 
SWP's Harvey O. Banks Delta Pumping Plant. 
Also, water rights for the CVP and SWP mandate 
that exports be curtailed during certain months to 
protect the fishery and that flows be maintained for 
protecting the Delta environment. Other protection 
includes screens and special mitigation measures for 
the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's powerplant 
diversions in the western Delta. Even with these 
measures, the need for more protection is evident, 
because some Delta fisheries continue to decline. 

In December 1986, with the aid of environmental 
groups and State project contractors, DWR signed 
an agreement with the Department of Fish and 
Game that will further offset direct losses caused by 
SWP pumping. The agreement, discussed further 
in Chapter 11, provides fishery mitigation sufficient 
to allow DWR to complete the Banks Delta Pump- 

Other efforts to understand and improve the fishery 
resource include the Interagency Ecological Studies 
Program, which involves participation by the De- 
partments of Water Resources and Fish and Game, 
the Water Resources Control Board, the U.S. Bu- 
reau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Elements 
of the program are directed to fisheries, water qual- 
ity, fish facilities, the Suisun Marsh, and San Fran- 
cisco Bay. About $60 million has been expended 
on this program alone over the past 25 or more 
years. To date. State Water Project water users 
have funded about $30 million of this study and 
the Bureau of Reclamation has contributed $ 1 1 
million. Apart from the interagency ecological 
studies, some $10 million has been allocated for 
the Fisheries Restoration Program, administered by 
the Department of Fish and Game, to correct fish- 
eries problems caused by projects other than the 
SWP and CVP. 

Water Quality 

Salinity in the Delta is related to the amount of 
Delta outflow into San Francisco Bay. Decision 
1485, adopted by the Water Resources Control 
Board in 1978, contains water quality standards to 
protect Delta uses from excessive salinity intrusion. 
A very important concept is that the rights of the 
SWP and the CVP to export water from the Delta 
are subject to maintaining the Delta standards as a 
base condition. 

Export water quality concerns today tend to center 
on agricultural, urban, and industrial waste dis- 
charges, and sources that provide the potential for 
formation of trihalomethanes (THMs). THMs are 
chemicals formed in drinking water when chlorine 
used in water treatment processes reacts with natu- 
ral substances found in Delta water. These sub- 
stances include organic acids from the decay of 
plants and peat soils in the Delta and bromides, 
which are salts of sea-water origin. THMs are a 
matter for concern because they are suspected car- 
cinogens. Lessening reverse flows will lower the 
level of THMs in the export water by reducing the 
bromides carried by the reverse flows. THMs are 
discussed further in Chapter 8. 


Local Delta Uses 

Local Delta water use is protected by a number of 
measures, such as the Delta Protection Act, the 
Watershed Protection Law, water rights, and the 
Coordinated Operation Agreement (see Chapter 
11). Additional agreements provide protection in 
connection with specific local problems. 

Project operations sometimes cause problems for 
Delta farmers by lowering water levels, disrupting 
circulation patterns, and lowering water quality. At 
times, diversions also cause erosion of channels and 
levees when channel capacities are too small for 
the amount of water passing through them. DWR 
has negotiated long-term agreements with the 
North Delta Water Agency and the East Contra 
Costa Irrigation District to protect agricultural uses. 
More recently, DWR entered into an agreement 
with the South Delta Water Agency and the Bureau 
of Reclamation to construct interim facilities and to 
develop long-term solutions for the agency's water 
supply problems. 

The Bay-Delta Hearings 

Legal obligations to protect Delta water quality and 
beneficial uses must be recognized in all water re- 
sources planning in the Delta. These obligations 
now exist in the Water Resources Control Board's 
Decision 1485. The Board began hearings in July 
of this year to review the relevant Bay and Delta 
Water Quality Control Plans and water right permit 

conditions of diverters of Delta water supplies, in- 
cluding the SWP and CVP. New water right deci- 
sions resulting from these hearings are scheduled 
for 1990. In the meantime, DWR is moving ahead 
with planning to help resolve water problems relat- 
ing to fisheries, water quality, and flood protection. 
(The Bay-Delta hearings are discussed further in 
Chapter 10.) 

Delta Planning 

Planning for Delta improvements has been under 
way since the late 1800s. An 1874 report by the 
Army Engineers suggesting use of surplus Sacra- 
mento Valley water to irrigate both the Sacramento 
and San Joaquin valleys influenced Col. Robert B. 
Marshall, a topographer with the U.S. Geological 
Survey and author of a comprehensive state plan 
for water development issued in 1919. Our present 
State water system includes many of Marshall's 
ideas. Reviewing the plan in 1926, the California 
Water Resources Association commented: "... 
whatever plan the Department of Public Works may 
recommend, [it] must . . . make some feasible and 
satisfactory recommendation covering the extremely 
grave problem of salt water encroachment in the 
Delta .... This is one of the most vital consid- 
erations before the people of California today ..." 

Current efforts are focused on Delta levee rehabili- 
tation and water management in the southern and 
northern parts of the Delta. DWR, the Corps of 


Intensively managed farm operations typify 
Delta agriculture. Total cash receipts In 1979 
showed crop production ($331 million) was about 
3 percent of the State total ($12.7 billion). Delta 
agriculture Is a major part of the agricultural 
economy of Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Con- 
tra Costa counties. 

Water for Irrigation Is tal<en from Delta channels 
in more than 1,800 separate diversions. During 
the irrigation season, these diversions require 
flows of up to 5,000 cubic feet per second. 

Records for 1924 through 1977 show significant 
changes in both acreage planted and relative 

acreage per crop. The most apparent trends 

Except for tomatoes, acreages of truck 
crops, asparagus, and potatoes showed a large 

Processing tomatoes became a major Delta 
crop after 1948. 

Fruit crops declined and then increased sub- 
stantially during the early 1950s.. 

Grain/hay and field corn have become the 
dominant crops. 

Pasture and alfalfa acreage increased. 


Engineers, and local interests are working to de- 
velop a long-range answer to the levee problem. 
Both the Federal Emergency Management Agency 
and the State Office of Emergency Services are 
reluctant to spend more money on disaster relief in 
the Delta without a comprehensive plan and com- 
mitment by the State. In developing a plan, it is 
appropriate to consider alternative approaches to 
dealing with the levees. The problem of subsi- 
dence is of particular concern in some Delta areas. 

In April 1987, DWR and the Bureau of Reclama- 
tion conducted public meetings to discuss southern 
Delta water management issues. This planning ac- 
tivity is being initiated under the October 1986 
South Delta Agreement among the Bureau, DWR, 
and the South Delta Water Agency that committed 
all three parties to work together to develop mutu- 
ally acceptable, long-term solutions to the water 

supply problems of water users in the southern 
Delta. Objectives of the agreement are to improve 
and maintain water levels, circulation patterns, and 
water quality. 

Evaluation of alternatives to meet these objectives 
will also take into account broader objectives of the 
Bureau and DWR being pursued in connection with 
the Delta region concerning fisheries, overall effi- 
ciency of SWP and CVP operations, navigation, 
and flood protection. Some alternatives to be con- 
sidered in the southern Delta include dredging and 
channel improvements; channel flow control struc- 
tures; relocation of the Contra Costa Canal intake; 
changes to Clifton Court Forebay, including a new 
intake gate or relocation of the intake and enlarge- 
ment of the forebay; and interconnection of the 
CVP with the forebay. Effects on the southern 
Delta of a Corps of Engineers permit to allow 








^ 25- 


^^ ""^ BEANS 


40 50 60 70 80 

40 50 

70 80 

70 80 




A temporary rock weir, installed by DWR in Middle River in 
early April 1987 and removed in late September, increased the 
depth of water at pumps used for irrigation diversions. The 
south Delta interim facility is planned for use again in 1988, 

greater flows for south-of-the-Delta water banking 
and other storage programs will also be examined. 

In addition, DWR is looking at a possible conjunc- 
tive use program with local interests for use of New 
Melones water, which would allow the SWP to take 
the water during dry years, while improving water 
quality in the southern Delta. Under this program, 
good quality New Melones water would be released 
to the San Joaquin River, a tributary to the south- 
ern Delta. 

Today's planning effort in the northern Delta is 
proceeding about six months behind southern Delta 
planning. Public involvement began in August 
1987. Northern Delta planning will focus on pro- 
viding flood protection for islands along the lower 
Mokelumne River, reducing fisheries impacts, and 
improving transfer efficiency of federal and State 
project water across the Delta. 

One promising possibility for the northern Delta is 
a phased program that would start with enlargement 
of the South Fork of the Mokelumne River. This 
appears to provide major flood control benefits for 







the area, which includes the five northern Delta 
islands and tracts that flooded in 1986. It would 
also significantly reduce reverse flows in the western 
Delta in late spring and summer, which are critical 
months for striped bass. 

In the western Delta, DWR and the North Delta 
Water Agency signed a contract in 1981 to protect 
water supply and water quality in the agency's serv- 
ice area, including Sherman Island. Their agree- 
ment provided for a future overland water supply 
facility for the island. This long-proposed facility 
and possible alternatives are presently under study. 

One alternative is a wildlife management plan for 
the island. The Department of Fish and Game is 
evaluating acquisition of waterfowl easements, 
marsh management requirements, likely costs and 
revenues, funding sources, and benefits to water- 
fowl populations. If it were coordinated with other 
Delta planning, the wildlife management plan could 
develop a number of significant benefits for wildlife 
and for flood control. A draft report will be com- 
pleted in early 1988. 

Isolated Channel 

Certainly the most controversial water project in 
California in many years was the proposed Periph- 
eral Canal. This would have been a 43-mile new 
channel extending from Hood on the Sacramento 
River to the export pumps near Tracy. After many 
years of debate, it was effectively rejected at the 
June 1982 election as part of a water legislation 
package that had been put on the ballot by refer- 
endum. For the foreseeable future, the concept of 
constructing an entirely new channel to carry the 
export water appears to be "on the shelf." 

Nevertheless, many technical experts believe that at 
some time it may be necessary to go back to the 
concept of an isolated channel for water transfer. 
They argue that the advantages for water quality, 
fish and wildlife, and export reliability are sufficient 
to make the idea viable. Given the overwhelming 
vote against it in Northern California of more than 
9 to 1, this seems unlikely, unless conditions or 
circumstances in the Delta should change signifi- 
cantly. For now, no planning resources are being 
devoted to this concept. 


Federal Regulations 

One final observation about Delta planning is that it 
is becoming more and more apparent the federal 
government will play a much greater role in deter- 
mining what is ultimately done than was thought in 
the past. The facts that the Delta is an estuary, is 
a navigable waterway, includes wetlands, and has 
valuable anadromous fisheries make it subject to a 
number of significant federal laws. These are 
briefly mentioned here as they relate to the Delta. 
They are outlined in some detail in Chapter 11. In 

essence, the Corps of Engineers administers a regu- 
latory program for wetlands and navigable water- 
ways that requires a permit be obtained for any 
improvement or facilities an agency might under- 
take in the Delta. Virtually nothing can be done 
to resolve Delta problems by construction that does 
not require a permit from the Corps of Engineers. 
Over the years, activities necessary to obtain a per- 
mit have evolved into a very substantive process. 
Full environmental documentation with a federal 
environmental impact statement is required for 
most actions. 

The Delta: California's water supply crossroads is also a major recreation area that attracts thousands of people every year. 


Although the Coqjs of Engineers administers the 
permit process, federal law requires full coordina- 
tion with the various environmental agencies, such 
as the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine 
Fisheries Service, and the California Department of 
Fish and Game. This can become a highly com- 
ple>4 process, particularly when there is potential for 
impacting rare and endangered species. One result 
of this interaction among agencies governed by dif- 
ferent laws is that obtaining a permit requires ex- 
tensive negotiations. It would be exceedingly diffi- 
cult to "force" a conclusion by the political proc- 
ess. The only effective approach is to patiently 
negotiate one step at a time. 

A compaction recorder to measure deep soil subsidence in 
the Delta was installed by DWR in May 1987 on Bacon 
Island, where peat is now about 12 feet thick. A free- 
standing 2-inch steel pipe, footed in concrete 440 feet 
below ground, extends to the surface inside a 6-inch cas- 
ing. A cable connects the pipe to a drum recorder. As 
sediments between the surface and the stationary lower 
end of the pipe settle and compact, the pipe will appear to 
rise slowly from the casing and the differential movement 
between pipe and ground surface will be recorded as sub- 
sidence. Correlating this movement with surface elevation 
will provide the amount of subsidence. A nearby installa- 
tion is measuring shallow subsidence. 


Most of the land and levees in the Delta are sub- 
siding, a continuous process in which the sur- 
face of the land declines. Subsidence is a matter 
for concern because it jeopardizes the stability of 
the levee system and increases the chances of 
island flooding. 

Subsidence is caused by any of several natural 
occurrences: oxidation of organic soils, wind 
erosion, the withdrawal of water and natural gas, 
tectonic movement, or consolidation. Shallow 
subsidence lowers the surface in the interior of 
an island. The causes are oxidation and erosion 
of the organic soils. Deep subsidence lowers the 
island surface when the porosity of the inorganic 
sediments below the organic soils is reduced. 
Reduced porosity can occur naturally or it can be 
caused by ground water pumping from wells. 

The Delta's peat soil has subsided at least 3 feet around 
the anchor blocks of the East Bay Municipal Utility Dis- 
trict's Mokelumne Aqueduct. 

The levees are affected by a third type of subsi- 
dence that is caused primarily by the consolida- 
tion of organic materials making up the founda- 
tion of a levee. As a levee settles, the weight of 
new material added on top to ensure flood safety 
presses down, causing further consolidation and 
settling and lowering of the levee. 

Measuring rates of subsidence and determining 
Its causes requires two types of information: ac- 
curate determination of land surface elevation 
and differentiation of shallow and deep subsi- 
dence. Surface elevation can be measured by 
conventional surveying methods and by use of 
earth-orbiting satellites. Shallow and deep sub- 
sidence are Identified by a compaction recorder 
(see photo at left). 



Quahtv is a crucial measure of a water supply's use- 
fulness. California is a relatively recent culture 
whose water resources were not severely stressed by 
potential pollution until the post-World War II 
population rise. By the time the State was industri- 
alizing, there was already a respectful awareness of 
the problems associated with water pollution. As 
early as the 1940s, California began to carry out 
programs to protect its water resources. As a 
result, many water treatment facilities were built to 
safeguard people from water quality problems 
caused by disease organisms. Efforts were also 
made to keep dissolved minerals, commonly known 
as "salts," from reaching unacceptable levels. 

In recent years, however, we have discovered that 
our general success in maintaining clean water sup- 
plies in California has not been totally effective. 
Increasing attention is now being focused on con- 
stituents other than disease organisms and dissolved 
salts that affect the usefulness of the State's water 
supplies. It is apparent that potentially toxic 
chemicals constitute a widespread threat to our 
water resources. 

A host of manufactured toxics has entered the en- 
vironment over the past 50 years, but the environ- 
mental hazards associated with the use of many of 
these substances was not generally recognized until 
recently. As a result, toxic control efforts have 
sometimes lagged — in part because analytical 
methods were not, until recently, sophisticated 
enough to analyze the chemistry of water samples 
at levels low enough to detect toxic substances. 

As analytical methods have improved, so has our 
knowledge of California's toxic water pollution 

Up to 1986, Kesterson Reservoir was the terminus for water 
collected from some of the underground agricultural drain- 
age systems in the San Joaquin Valley. Collection system 
and reservoir were closed when drainage water containing 
selenium was found in concentrations harmful to birds and 
mammals. A multi-agency State-federal program is now 
working on the overall valley drainage problem. 

problems. Unfortunately, however, the ability to 
detect toxic chemicals at ultra-low concentrations 
has not been accompanied by a full understanding 
of the health implications posed by these pollutants. 
Increased concern has, though, resulted in valuable 
research into methods of treating water to remove 
toxics. For example, research has indicated that 
granular activated carbon and ozonation can re- 
move a wide variety of organic pollutants from 
drinking water. Therefore, while the health effects 
of some toxic substances may not be fully under- 
stood, it will probably be possible to treat drinking 

I Drainage from Walker Mine in Plumas County, June 1986, carries high levels of copper-zinc-iron compounds 
into Dolly Creek, then to Little Grizzly Creek. Abatement efforts are being pursued. 

Sophisticated laboratory instruments can identify extremely 
small concentrations of synthetic organic chemicals. The 
gas chromatographlmass spectrometer at DWR's water 
quality laboratory is one of the newer weapons to combat 
toxic environmental pollution. 

To identify and determine concentrations of syn- 
thietic organic chiemicals, water sampies containing 
organic pollutants are vaporized at high temperature 
and then separated by passing the hot gasses 
through long, thin glass tubing. The gas emerging 
from the far end of the tubing is bombarded by 
atomic particles, causing organic pollutants to frag- 
ment. A detector senses the fragment patterns, 
which are the "fingerprints" of the pollutants. Next, 
a computer compares these patterns to patterns of 
thousands of known chemicals stored in the com- 
puter memory. By this means, more than 30,000 In- 
dividual synthetic chemicals can be identified. 

The sensitivity of measurement varies, depending 
on the specific chemical being analyzed. Concen- 
trations as small as, or even smaller than, one part 
chemical to one billion parts of water can usually 
be measured. To put this ratio In perspective, an 
individual drinking from a water supply containing 
one part per billion of a chemical would consume 
only about one drop of the substance during a life- 

water for removal of these substances. This whole 
subject is progressing month by month, and it is likely 
that effective clean-up technologies will be developed 
within a very few years. 

Water quality concerns affect both surface and 
ground water supplies in California, and water qual- 
ity problems involving salinity and other common 
pollutants have been the subjects of numerous 
reports issued by DWR and other State agencies. 
Much less has been written about toxic problems. 
While only about 5 percent of California's devel- 
oped water supply is used inside homes, this do- 
mestic supply affects us directly because we use it 
for drinking, bathing, and preparing food. The rest 
of this chapter emphasizes recent concerns over 
toxicants in our domestic water supplies. 

Surface Water Quality 

Overall, the quality of California's surface water is 
very good. Nevertheless, quality problems (both 
natural and man-made) do exist in some of the 
State's surface water supplies. Recently, for 
example, there has been an increased public aware- 
ness of diseases in humans caused by the naturally 
occurring organism, Giardia. This organism is 

DWR's iwpiTimt-nial salt-gradient solar pond near Los 
Banos is demonstrating that highly concentrated brines from 
saline agricultural drainage, collected in outdoor ponds and 
heated by the sun, can generate electricity. Hot brine is 
pumped into a heat exchanger, where it heats liquid freon to 
vapor that drives a turbine, spinning a 10-kilowatt genera- 
tor. Half-acre pond at left, with a wave-suppression grid, 
was built in 1985. The generator has operated since May 


sometimes found in mountain streams that are 
practically free of human-caused pollution and, 
fortunately, it can be removed from water by con- 
ventional treatment. 

In some areas of California there are locations 
where toxic metals derived from mineral deposits 
are dissolved into surface water supplies. This 
problem is not always the result of human activity. 
Usually, though, activities such as mining and road 
building have exposed mineral deposits to flowing 
water and caused them to dissolve and cause envi- 
ronmental problems farther downstream. 

In terms of volume, the State's most important sur- 
face drinking water supplies are the Sacramento- 
San Joaquin Delta and the Colorado, Sacramento, 
and San Joaquin rivers. 

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta 

The Delta is a water source for agencies that pro- 
vide drinking water to approximately 15 million 
Californians, and as such it can probably be con- 
sidered the State's most valuable surface water 
supply. Additionally, the Delta supplies water that 
helps support agricultural lands in the Delta itself 
and in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. 
Water quality concerns in the Delta related to 




Serpentine, California's stale rock, is a commonly occurring 
natural source of asbestos. Rainwater washing over exposed 
rocks can raise asbestos concentrations in runoff to high 
levels. White strialions are fine fractures in the rock. 

When serpentine breaks up, fragments splinter into min- 
ute white asbestos fibers that are invisible to the unaided 
eye. Water can appear clear and yet be heavily loaded 
with these fibers, a half-million of which, placed side by 
side, would equal one inch. Concentrations of asbestos 
are measured in millions of fibers per liter of water. 
This sample has been magnified 30,000 times. 


drinking water can be traced to a number of poten- 
tial sources, including: 

■ Possible salinity intrusion into the western Delta 
from San Francisco Bay. 

■ Waste water discharges sometimes contain dis- 
ease organisms and chemical pollutants. 

■ Agricultural drainage water may contain pesti- 
cide residues and other toxic agents. 

■ Storm drainage water can contain traces of 
gasoline, oil, rubber, asbestos, lead, and pesti- 

The quality of Delta water has been extensively 
monitored by DWR, the Department of Fish and 
Game, and other State and federal agencies. Until 
the last few years, however, most of this monitoring 
focused on ecological concerns and sea-water intru- 
sion problems. 

Since 1983, DWR has directed a multiagency moni- 
toring program to test Delta water for constituents 
harmful to human health. Results to date indicate 
that Delta water supplies contain very low levels of 
pesticides and industrial chemicals that are well 
within safe drinking water guidelines. Selenium lev- 
els have also been well within established drinking 
water criteria. 

The primary concern over drinking water taken 
from the Delta relates to trihalomethanes, or 
THMs. These chemicals occur in drinking water 
when chlorine used for disinfection comes into con- 
tact with certain natural materials such as decayed 
vegetation (peat soil, for example) and bromides 
(salts of sea-water origin). Both of these agents 
are important to THM formation, and DWR is 
studying the sources of THM-forming materials in 
Delta water. 

Because THMs are suspected carcinogens, the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency has established a 
limit on the levels of THMs that may be present in 
drinking water. This standard is now under review, 
and it is not clear whether it will be lowered in the 
next two or three years. Several methods are 
available to treat water to keep THMs within the 
present standard, but a lot of research is being 
done on the issue. 

Sacramento River 

Pesticide use in the Sacramento River watershed is 
extensive. For the past few years, in springtime, 
Sacramento River water taken by the city of Sacra- 
mento and treated for drinking has at times had a 
chemical odor and taste traceable to herbicides 
used in rice farming. 

Although the concentrations of these chemicals in 
drinking water are not considered harmful to hu- 
man health, some Sacramento residents have re- 
acted strongly to the odor and taste problems. Ac- 
cordingly, the Water Resources Control Board, the 
Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and the 
Department of Food and Agriculture are establish- 
ing a more restrictive control program to regulate 
the entry of these substances into the Sacramento 
River. Despite occasional problems caused by toxic 
pollution, the river supports migratory fish, and its 
water quality is acceptable for recreational and 
other uses. 

San Joaquin River 

During the summer, a large part of the flow in the 
San Joaquin River is made up of agricultural drain- 
age. This water consists partly of excess irrigation 
runoff from fields and partly of flow from under- 
ground tile drainage systems in the valley. Pesti- 
cides in measurable concentrations are not gener- 
ally present in the subsurface drainage, but they 
sometimes occur in the excess surface drainage and 
reach the San Joaquin River. 

DWR monitors drainage water for pesticides and 
other agents that may limit the usability of Delta 
water for domestic applications. Pesticide monitor- 
ing includes inventorying of types and quantities of 
chemicals in use in the watershed so that most of 
the pesticides that might be present are specifically 
tested for. 

The table on the preceding page summarizes data 
collected for eight pesticides during 1985 and 1986. 
The information gained indicates the extent to 
which agricultural drainage received by the San 
Joaquin River influences the quality of water in the 
Delta. The "San Joaquin River, near Vernalis" 
column presents the results of sampling at a point 
at which the river flows into the Delta. Any pesti- 
cides that have entered the river from the San Joa- 





Detection LIndsey 



San Joaqui 

n Banks 









River, near 
















2,4-D sait 






























































50 t 










50 t 








50 t 





50 1- 





























Methyl parath 







































































10 t 










10 t 





10 t 





10 1- 
































Other target pesticides 

that were n 

ot detected In 

the samples 

and for wh 

ich no action Tevel has 

been set 

Carbofuran, dacthal, D 

-D mixture, 

MCPA, metalaxyl, metham 

Idophos, methyl bromide, and paraquat die 


♦ = Not deteciea. 

t = Tentative recommended action level. The action level fo taste and odor threshold is 1.0 m 

crograms per 

liter for thiobencarb and 37 r 


per liter for chloroplcrin. 

Absence of values or symbols 

Tieans no analysis was performed for that chemica 


quin Valley are detectable at this location. On the 
basis of these findings, the San Joaquin River is 
shown to be only slightly affected by pesticides. 
Where pesticides were detected, their concentra- 
tions were found to be well within established safe 
drinking water standards. 

Besides pesticides in surface water runoff into the 
San Joaquin River, there is also concern over natu- 
rally occurring chemicals that may be present in tile 
drainage systems in undesirable concentrations. 
Levels of boron, arsenic, molybdenum, mercury, 
cadmium, chromium, nickel, zinc, copper, and 
manganese in the river are being measured and 
their sources evaluated. It is not clear at this time 
whether the San Joaquin River contains selenium 
concentrations that have harmed — or are likely to 
harm — fish and wildlife. The State Water Re- 
sources Control Board and the Central Valley Re- 
gional Water Quality Control Board are establishing 
water quality objectives and waste discharge regula- 
tions for the San Joaquin River basin to protect the 
river and the Delta from harmful constituents of 
agricultural drainage. 

Colorado River 

Excessive salinity concentrations have long been 
recognized as one of the major water quality prob- 
lems of the Colorado River, which provides munici- 
pal and industrial water to nearly 14 million people 
and irrigates 700,000 acres of farmland. The riv- 
er's heavy salt load is derived from both natural 
sources and human activities, each contributing 
about half the total amount. An estimated nine 
million tons of dissolved salts pass Hoover Dam 
each year, causing California water users an esti- 
mated $100 million in annual damages. Without 
measures to control it, salinity in the lower reaches 
of the river will continue to cause major water 
quality problems. 

In 1975, the seven Colorado River Basin states, 
with the Environmental Protection Agency's ap- 
proval, adopted water quality standards for river 
salinity at three stations: 723 milligrams per liter 
below Hoover Dam, 747 milligrams per liter below 
Parker Dam, and 879 milligrams per liter at Impe- 
rial Dam. Current studies show that, without con- 
trol measures, salinity could reach 1,000 milligrams 
per liter at Hoover Dam by 2010. 

To adhere to the adopted standards through 2010, 
about 1.1 million tons of salt per year must be pre- 
vented from entering the river. To do this, control 
activities are being conducted under a federal-state 
program authorized by Congress. Work began in 
1976, and at present 140,000 tons of salt are being 
removed from the river annually by the U.S. Bu- 
reau of Reclamation and the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture at sites in Colorado and Utah. The 
long-range salinity control plan calls for completion 
of 17 additional control measures, limitations on 
municipal and industrial discharges, increased use 
of saline water by industry, and improved manage- 
ment of direct and indirect sources of pollution. 

Agricultural Drainage: 
A Long-standing Problem 

Salty drainage water resulting from irrigation in the 
San Joaquin Valley must eventually be disposed of 
to prevent harm to the land. Several hundred 
thousand acres of irrigated agricultural land on the 
valley's western side are underlain by shallow, 
semi-impenetrable clay layers that prevent water 
from moving downward. When irrigation continues 
and the water is not drained off, the water table 
rises, which reduces crop yields and can result in 
land being withdrawn from production. This prob- 
lem has been compounded significantly in the past 
five years by the discovery at Kesterson Reservoir 
that selenium in some drainage water is toxic to 

Selenium and other potentially toxic natural sub- 
stances derive from sedimentary rocks of the Pa- 
cific Coast Range. They have been transported 
over geologic times into the alluvial soils of western 
San Joaquin Valley. The spread of these sub- 
stances has been further assisted by subsurface 
drainage systems, and in recent years the long- 
standing salinity problem has been reclassified as a 
toxic threat. 

As early as the 1950s, DWR began working with 
other water agencies to investigate the valley's salin- 
ity problems. In 1979, DWR, the State Water Re- 
sources Control Board, and the U.S. Bureau of 
Reclamation published an Interagency Drainage 
Report that reiterated earlier findings in support of 
a valley drain extending from the vicinity of 
Bakersfield to the western San Joaquin-Sacramento 
River Delta. Today, however, with other toxicants 


added to the already serious selenium problems, 
the valley drain is no longer practical — at least 
until cost-effective treatment technologies are de- 
veloped to remove or neutralize the toxicants. 

In 1983, DWR and other state and federal agencies 
began a cooperative investigation to redefine the 
scope and extent of the valley's drainage problems 
and to develop a plan for dealing with them. Ac- 
tivities related to this investigation are also being 
conducted by the State and Regional Water Quality 
Control Boards and the University of California. 
The National Academy of Science is providing sci- 
entific guidance, and local water and environmental 
agencies are sponsoring several programs for drain- 
age water treatment and disposal, as well as the 
reduction of drainage water volumes. Proposition 
44, the Water Conservation and Water Quality 
Bond Law of 1986, authorizes low-interest loans to 
local agencies to help solve drainage problems. 

Investigations to date indicate that any long-range 
agricultural drainage plan for the valley's western 
side should include various combinations of the 
following components: 

Improved on-farm irrigation management meas- 
ures to reduce drainage volumes. 

Curtailed water deliveries to certain lands con- 
taining selenium "hot spots." 

Chemical or biological treatment to remove 
selenium from drainage water. 

Greater concentration of salts in evaporation 
ponds designed to be safe for waterfowl and 
nonthreatening to ground water supplies. 

Formation of regional drainage districts to 
achieve better coordination. 

The San Joaquin Valley Interagency Drainage In- 
vestigation is scheduled to release an interim report 
in fall 1987 and a final report in 1990. 

Ground Water Quality 

Ground water is particularly susceptible to degrada- 
tion by dissolved salts, and "salty" ground water is 
a problem in certain areas of California. Yet, even 
though it is troublesome, this condition has been 
well documented in sea-water intrusion areas and 

largely corrected in the past several decades. To- 
day, the new focus of concern is on chemical pol- 
lution of our ground water supplies. 

For many years, ground water was assumed to be 
safe from chemical pollution because contaminant 
movement was thought to be restricted to the top 
few inches of the earth's surface. This assumption 
was perpetuated by inadequate testing and controls, 
which led to improper use, storage, and disposal of 
enormous amounts of toxic chemicals. During the 
late 1970s, scientists realized that certain kinds of 
organic chemicals — including solvents such as 
TCE and pesticides such as DBCP — are capable 
of moving through the soil and mixing with ground 

Two particularly disturbing aspects of ground water 
pollution are that (1) it can take years for some 
pollutants to move from the earth's surface into 
ground water supplies and (2) once in the ground, 
pollutants can remain at problem concentrations for 
many decades. For these reasons, numerous gov- 
ernmental programs have been put in motion to 
identify and correct existing pollution problems, as 
well as to prevent further ground water contamina- 
tion. Most of these programs are just a few years 
old, and in many instances they will have to be 
continued for many more years to come. 

On the bright side, the processes through which 
ground water supplies become contaminated by 
toxic chemicals have become much more clearly 
understood by scientists in recent years, as the 
methodology for examining ground water contami- 
nation problems has improved. Today, it is possi- 
ble to conduct tests on specific chemicals to predict 
both their behavior in soil and their capacity to 
pollute ground water. The California Department 
of Health Services requires municipal water supply 
agencies that use ground water to test their water 
supplies for an extensive range of chemicals known 
to have the capacity to pollute underground water 
supplies. Where pollutant concentrations exceed 
established health safety limits, the water supply 
agencies work with the Department of Health Serv- 
ices to correct the problem through treatment, 
abandonment of contaminated wells, or other 


Underground chemical storage tanks are a major 
source of ground water pollution in California, and 
the Water Resources Control Board and its regional 
boards are now identifying all underground chemi- 
cal storage facilities in the State to determine which 
ones are leaking. Inadequate tanks are being re- 
placed with modern installations equipped with 
safety systems and leak-monitoring devices. Al- 
though this retrofit program is well under way, it 
will take years to complete because there are so 
many underground storage facilities in California. 

Surface storage of toxic substances can pollute 
ground water supplies if the storage facilities are 
leaky. The Water Resources Control Board and 

the regional boards have a joint program for identi- 
fying toxic storage pits within the State, evaluating 
their adequacy, and implementing corrective ac- 
tions, when needed. 

The California Department of Food and Agriculture 
requires manufacturers of pesticides used in Califor- 
nia to document that they pose no threat to ground 
water. When manufacturers refuse to provide this 
documentation or when it fails to show the absence 
of a ground water threat, DFA can ban the chemi- 
cal's use in California. DFA also samples ground 
water supplies that may be polluted. When sam- 
pling suggests that certain pesticides threaten the 

wants High School's buses were fueled from this tank for 30 years. The tank was removed in 1985 when it began leaking. 
Underground tanks holding hazardous materials now must be registered, tested, and monitored under a 1984 Slate law. 


safety of ground water used for domestic purposes, 
DFA acts to restrict or eliminate their use. 

As the State agency responsible for investigating the 
overall quality of California's water resources, DWR 
is consolidating the ground water data generated by 
other agencies and performing supplemental moni- 
toring, as necessary. In addition, DWR maintains a 
statewide, standardized system for assigning well 
identification numbers — a system that is valuable 
in terms of locating and organizing ground water 
monitoring data generated by the various agencies. 
DWR assists other agencies in their ground water 
monitoring efforts by assigning numbers for wells in 
their monitoring networks. The statewide database 
resulting from this cooperative effort will enable 
DWR to identify significant trends in the overall 
quality of the State's ground water resources. 

In other related efforts, the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency is requiring states to establish 
detailed ground water protection strategies. The 
Water Resources Control Board is the lead agency 
for developing California's strategy. 

In response to Assembly Bill 1803 (Chapter 818, 
Statutes of 1985), the Department of Health Serv- 
ices established a three-year program to determine 

the presence of organic chemicals in small water 
systems (5 to 199 connections) in the State that 
are supplied by ground water. The report summa- 
rizing the program's first two years indicates that, 
of 2,278 wells sampled, 162 showed the presence 
of organic chemicals and 38 exceeded the action 
level. The chemical found most often was the soil 
fumigant DBCP. The next three were solvents. 
When the program is completed, some 4,500 sys- 
tems will have been examined, and about half the 
wells supplying them will have been sampled. 

While these programs will improve protection of the 
State's ground water resources, current knowledge 
of the extent of chemical pollution in California is 
now inadequate, as is definitive information on the 
health aspects of different concentrations of various 
chemicals. In the next few years, one of the 
State's biggest challenges will be to evaluate the 
extent of its chemical pollution problems and carry 
out appropriate corrective actions. The passage of 
State Proposition 65 (the Toxics Initiative) in the 
November 1986 State elections was a strong expres- 
sion of Californians' wishes to have their water sup- 
plies protected from toxic pollutants. 

Colonial green algae, magnified 350 times. 




,x ^' 


Calljornia's push toward serious consideration of 
water conservation came during the 1976-1977 
drought, when dwindling river, lake, and reservoir 
supplies caused the water situation throughout 
much of the State to turn bleak. Since then, much 
attention has been focused on plans and programs 
to encourage more efficient use of water. 

Water Conservation in Urban Areas 

Local urban water suppliers, the Department of 
Water Resources, and most recently, local govern- 
ments are actively conducting research, education, 
and implementation programs to reduce urban 
water use. 

Three hundred urban water suppliers have prepared 
water management plans under the Urban Water 
Management Planning Act of 1983. These plans 
identify many water conservation programs being 
implemented now and proposed for the future. 
They include low water-use landscaping and 
improved irrigation efficiency on large turf areas, 
water audits and leak detection, industrial water 
conservation, residential retrofit with low-flow and 
ultra-low-flow toilets and showerheads, reclamation, 
capital outlay projects to replace old water mains 
and similar facilities, public education, and 
in-school education. DWR has provided technical 
and financial assistance to urban water agencies 
and local governments in all these areas since 

Landscape Water Conservation 

Roughly half the water used at California residences 
is used outdoors. Large volumes of water are also 
used to irrigate parks, commercial landscapes, golf 

courses, athletic fields, and other sizable expanses 
of turf. Reducing the water applied to landscaped 
areas is an important part of water conservation as 
a whole. 

An example of local-State cooperation on water 
conservation is a publication. Lawn Watering 
Guide, developed for California homeowners by the 
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. 
Aided in part by a grant from DWR, LADWP pre- 
pared the Guide to show its customers an efficient 
way to schedule the watering of their lawns. DWR 
has also issued How to Produce a Lawn Watering 
Guide, which has been distributed widely to water 
service agencies in California. More than 2 million 
lawn watering guides are now in the hands of resi- 
dential water users. 

Xeriscape conferences have sprung up all over Cali- 
fornia, attracting thousands of persons from the 
landscape industry, the water industry, and local 
governments who were interested in learning about 
drought-resistant landscaping. These conferences, 
now held in all parts of the State, have been in- 
strumental in moving toward a less water-intensive 
but still attractive urban landscape. ("Xeriscape" 
means the conservation of water through appropri- 
ate landscaping.) 

DWR has recently initiated a statewide Landscape 
Water Audit training course for urban landscape 
professionals. This instruction is aimed at improv- 
ing irrigation efficiency on large turf, such as parks, 
school grounds, golf courses, and cemeteries. 
Many water districts, the landscape industry, and 
other public agencies are assisting with this effort 
and are, in turn, training irrigators in their own 

Fifty of these weather stations gather and transmit information that helps farmers decide when to irrigate and 
how much water to apply. 


Many local agencies are becoming involved in land- 
scape water conservation programs. The city of 
Irvine, for example, along with the Irvine Company 
and the Irvine Ranch Water District, has embarked 
on a five-year project to implement a centralized 
irrigation control and water management system. 
The city estimates that it will save $133,000 annu- 
ally and will, by the end of the project, have 
reduced its total water use in all public landscapes 
by 28 percent. 

Water Audit and Leak Detection 

To help save water lost through system leaks, DWR 
staff trains local agencies in water audit and leak 
detection procedures and loans them sonic leak 
detection equipment. The local agency is then able 
to survey its own system and estimate water losses. 
Recently 55 local water agencies carried out water 
audit and leak detection programs. These agencies 

Leaky pipes and excessive pressure waste hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water each year in 
California. Many water agencies are performing leak-detection programs and auditing their distribu- 
tion systems to reduce waste. Left, pressure-testing a landscape irrigation system; right, using 
an electronic device to listen for underground pipe leakage. 

In addition, in 1985, the Contra Costa County 
board of supervisors adopted water conservation 
guidelines specifying low water-use landscaping at 
all new multifamily residential, commercial, and 
industrial developments in unincorporated areas of 
the county. Ventura County and others have also 
developed landscape guidelines. 

saved more than 16,000 acre-feet of water worth 
more than $3 million during the two-year program. 

As water costs increase, more and more local agen- 
cies will be implementing water audit and leak de- 
tection programs. Many already have done so, 
including the city of Los Angeles, which surveys 
about 500 miles of water pipe and 50,000 meters 


every year. Several other agencies are also con- 
ducting programs, including the East Bay Municipal 
Utility District in Oakland. 

Studies by DWR indicate that leak detection and 
repair projects are cost-effective water conservation 
measures, if the cost of water is at least $25 per 
acre-foot and the initial leakage of the system is at 
least 3 percent of total deliveries. 


Replacing older showerheads with new low-flow devices cuts 
water use without reducing effectiveness. A 1978 State law 
restricts the maximum flow rate for showerheads sold in 
California to 2.75 gallons per minute. 

Household Retrofit Program 

The household retrofit program, which began in 
1977, is one of DWR's oldest water conservation 
programs. Technical assistance is offered on how 
to set up programs, and current information is pro- 
vided on the latest plumbing codes, water fixture 
laws and regulations, and retrofit program analyses. 

In cooperation with local agencies, such as the 
Santa Clara Valley Water District, the city of San 
Jose, the Municipal Water District of Orange 
County, and the Los Angeles Department of Water 
and Power, DWR has distributed retrofit kits to 
about four million California households — more 
than half the pre-1978 housing. (In 1978, the 
State required low water-using toilets and shower- 
heads for all new construction. About six million 
households were built before this requirement took 

Several localities have developed innovative retrofit 
programs. For instance, the Monterey Peninsula 
Water Management District gives its customers a 
large discount on connection fees for new buildings, 
if ultra-low-flush toilets are installed. These toilets 
use only 1 to 1}^ gallons of water per flush, while 
water-conserving toilets use V^ gallons. Since the 
new connection fees were adopted, more than 75 
percent of all new permit applicants have chosen to 
install the ultra-low-flush fixtures. Applicants can 
save more than $300 per toilet on permits by in- 
stalling these toilets. 

Water Conservation in Agriculture 

California's agricultural sector has for decades been 
developing and implementing ways to reduce 
on-farm water use. This conservation effort has 
been broad-based, involving various public institu- 
tions, private industries, and individual farmers. 
Year by year, on a continuing basis, many different 
irrigation techniques have been developed to 
reduce and tailor water use for the varied irrigation 
conditions encountered throughout the State. 

Many of the State's academic institutions have 
been working a long time to develop more efficient 
irrigation practices. Schools such as the University 
of California (chiefly the Davis and Riverside 
branches); California State Polytechnic University, 
San Luis Obispo; and others are engaged in inten- 
sive agricultural research. Moreover, the California 
Cooperative Extension Service has played an im- 
portant role in transferring research experiments 
from test plots to fields, where new practices can 
be demonstrated and adapted to specific site condi- 


DWR has had a multifaceted agricultural water con- 
servation program since 1980. It focuses on assist- 
ing water districts and growers with irrigation sched- 
uling based on crop water needs, education to im- 
prove the efficiency of various irrigation systems, 
support of research related to improved irrigation 
management and reductions in evapotranspiration 
rates of crops, and financial assistance to agricul- 
tural water districts to begin or expand their irriga- 
tion management programs. 

Three federal agencies have also been active in 
improving on-farm water conservation. The Agri- 
cultural Research Service, the Soil Conservation 
Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation have been 
responsible for many advances in irrigation effi- 
ciency, both in the development of new techniques 
and the providing of assistance to farmers seeking 
to improve the design and operation of their irriga- 
tion systems. 

Lively competition among irrigation-system manu- 
facturers and farm-management companies has also 
led to improvements in the design and promotion 
of such systems. Furthermore, lending institutions, 
whose policies encourage loans for irrigation system 
improvements, have had a significant impact on the 
installation of these modern-design systems. 

Farm managers themselves are often responsible for 
the success of the experimentation sponsored by 
universities, government agencies, and equipment 
manufacturers because the managers identify 
specific needs, encourage research, and implement 
the systems that result from it. Some managers 
have originated ideas for new system designs and 
irrigation management techniques. 

California Irrigation Management 
Information System 

Since the mid-1970s, DWR has published estimates 
of weekly crop water use — information that many 
farmers have used to schedule irrigations. The esti- 
mates are based on measured rates of evaporation 
from standard U.S. Weather Service evaporation 
pans installed at selected sites within some of the 
major irrigated areas of California. Now, in re- 
sponse to the need for real-time evapotranspiration 

information, daily estimates of crop water use are 
available through the California Irrigation Manage- 
ment Information System, a large, automated 
weather station network that records solar radia- 
tion, wind speed, rainfall, air temperature, humid- 
ity, and soil temperature. These data are transmit- 
ted daily by telephone to a central computer that 
calculates how much water certain plants in a 
certain area would have used under specified con- 
ditions for factors such as soil moisture availability 
and plant growth. The results are then made avail- 
able to farmers and other interested parties, who 
access them through personal computers. The 
information is also available through irrigation con- 
sultants, county farm advisors. Soil Conservation 
Service field offices, and the media. 

Since 1984, DWR has funded five mobile laboratories, 
which are operated through resource conservation districts. 
The labs evaluate irrigation systems on site to help growers 
improve irrigation practices. 

Laboratories on Wheels 

While crop water use estimates help farmers decide 
when to irrigate and how much water to apply, mo- 
bile irrigation management laboratories are available 
to measure how efficiently an irrigation system is 
working. These labs are operated by local resource 
conservation districts, with technical support from 
the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. Funds are 


provided by DWR and local contributors. Typi- 
cally, a team of technicians visits a field or large 
turf area, evaluates the management of the irriga- 
tion systems in use, and recommends water man- 
agement improvements. Mobile labs currently 
operate in Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern, Ventura, 
Riverside, Imperial, and San Diego counties. 

In southern Riverside County, the Rancho Califor- 
nia Water District demonstrates the value of coop- 
eration among farmers, local agencies, and State 
agencies when the goal is improving irrigation 
efficiency in areas where water is particularly ex- 
pensive and scarce. The district has evaluated irri- 
gation systems for almost all growers in its service 
area, with the growers paying 25 percent of the 
evaluation cost; the district, 25 percent; and the 
State, 50 percent. 

Agricultural Water Management 
Planning Assistance 

In 1986, the Legislature passed the Agricultural 
Water Management Planning Act. It requires every 
agricultural water retailer supplying more than 
50,000 acre-feet of water, if not covered by water 
conservation requirements of State and federal 
agencies, to report to the Department of Water 
Resources by December 31, 1989, how its water is 
managed. If, after preparing the report, the 
supplier finds that water can be conserved or that 
the quantity of highly saline or toxic drainage water 
can be reduced, the supplier must adopt an agricul- 
tural water management plan, provided that the 
Legislature appropriates funds for this purpose. 

Other Water Conservation Activities 

A short course in irrigation system evaluation, 
offered twice a year at California Polytechnic State 
University, San Luis Obispo, is attended by water 
district and irrigation district staffers, growers, irri- 
gation consultants and managers. DWR and Cal 
Poly received the Irrigation Association's 1986 
National Water and Energy Award for this course. 

As a result of recent increased concern over ways 
of coping with potentially toxic drainage water in 
parts of the San Joaquin Valley, DWR is working 
with other agencies and institutions and local farm- 
ers to assist in reducing agricultural drainage by 

improving irrigation management. The objective is 
to provide farmers with recommendations for 
improving irrigation scheduling, irrigation efficien- 
cies, and distribution uniformity, and maintaining 
salt balance. 

Other Programs: Urban and Agricultural 

The goal of water education programs is to inform 
children about some basic features of California's 
water supply system so that they can better compre- 
hend water issues as they grow older. Many water 
agencies have excellent water education programs 
for schoolchildren. The East Bay Municipal Utility 
District, for example, has operated a comprehen- 
sive program for over a decade, and The Metro- 
politan Water District of Southern California, the 
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the 
Santa Clara Valley Water District, the Soquel 
Creek Water District, and the Municipal Water 
District of Orange County also have fine programs 
of their own. 

Water agencies are also working with universities 
and school districts to credit teachers for attending 
water education workshops. Some of the agencies 
using this approach are the city of Riverside, the 
Western Municipal Water District, the Imperial 
Irrigation District, the Goleta Water District, the 
city of Fresno, and the Soquel Creek Water 

Water conservation public information programs are 
a vital part of many water agencies' public relations 
efforts. Some agencies, such as The Metropolitan 
Water District of Southern California, produce out- 
standing newsletters and promotional materials on 
water. Others, such as the city of Fresno, have 
composed award-winning public service announce- 

For its part, DWR has generated an extensive array 
of reports, brochures, workbooks, guidebooks, 
slide-tape shows, public service announcements, 
and other materials that are available free of 
charge. The Department also helps water agencies, 
local governments, and other interested parties 
develop or expand their own public information 
programs. As part of the Clean Water Bond Law 
of 1984 and the Water Conservation and Water 


•t32:=?:J « 

In the Imperial Valley, the Imperial /rngaiimi ih-.nui iuui irrigation ditches to keep valuable water from seeping below ground. 
By April 1987, some 900 miles of canal had been completed, with 550 miles to go. This program could be expedited and en- 
larged under a proposed agreement between IID and The Metropolitan Water District. 



Quality Bond Law of 1986, loans of up to S5 mil- 
lion are provided for voluntary, cost-effective 
capital outlay projects designed to save water. 
DWR administers this program, and loans are avail- 
able to any public agency involved in agricultural or 
urban water management. Examples of projects 
that might be funded by this program include those 
to line canals, to construct drainage return-flow 
systems, and to replace leaky water mains. 

Water Conservation: The Future 

Efficient use of water supplies in California is an 
economic and environmental necessity. It will be 
important for water purveyors and State and local 
government to analyze the cost effectiveness of 
water conservation measures and to implement 
those that are appropriate. Since water conserva- 
tion involves issues of technology, public awareness 
and acceptance, and research and education, coop- 
eration between the public and private sectors, the 
urban and agricultural sectors, and State and local 
government is needed. 



% *t^!^f' 

V V, 




^ w 


before I960, planning for future water allocation 
and use in California seemed to be a fairly straight- 
forward process. With few exceptions, damming 
rivers to store water for irrigation, urban uses, and 
hydroelectric power production was not regarded as 
having a serious detrimental impact on the environ- 
ment. In the early 1960s, however, relationships 
between environmental values and water supply 
became more apparent, and, in the next few years. 
State and federal legislators enacted many laws to 
protect environmental quality. This chapter dis- 
cusses a number of currently significant environ- 
mental issues related to water use. 

The Public Trust Doctrine 

As an outgrowth of the landmark decision in Na- 
tional Audubon Society v. Superior Court of Alpine 
County (1983), much attention is now focused on 
the public trust doctrine, which provides that the 
State holds navigable waters and their underlying 
lands in trust to protect public interests. Previ- 
ously, the only interests protected were commerce, 
navigation, fisheries, and the conventional uses of 
waterways. Recently, however, the courts have ex- 
panded the doctrine to protect the public's stake in 
recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, scenic values, 
and environmental preservation. Policies on how 
best to use our resources continue to evolve, and 
as interpretations and applications of our natural 
resource laws continue to change, so does environ- 
mental planning and decision-making. 

In the Audubon case, the California Supreme 
Court held that (1) the city of Los Angeles' water 
rights licenses to divert water from Mono Lake's 


Populations of trout in Indian Creek. Plumas County, have 
expanded significantly in recent years, DWR balances re- 
leases from its upper Feather River reservoirs, augmenting 
flows for fish and recreation downstream. 

tributary streams are subject to the public trust doc- 
trine; (2) when issuing water rights permits and 
licenses, the State must consider public trust values; 
and (3) to protect public trust values, the State 
must continue to supervise and reconsider existing 
water rights. The court did not mandate that pub- 
lic trust values take precedence over other benefi- 
cial water uses, but rather declared that both our 
appropriative water rights system and the public 
trust doctrine embody important precepts and the 
State must seek a balance between the principles of 
both systems. 

The decision in the Audubon case reflects a change 
in attitude toward natural resource use and a 

Moved by barge-power through the Delta in May 1987, this concrete shell, plus steel radial gates to be 
added, has now been placed in Montezuma Slough, where the structure will restrict sail-water inflow tc 
Suisun Marsh. 


change in policy that will affect water allocation 
throughout the West. In planning to meet future 
water needs, public trust values such as recreation 
or fish and wildlife must be considered equally with 
other beneficial water uses, and the combination of 
these values that best serves the public interest 
must be sought. 

Wild and Scenic Rivers 

The heightened environmental awareness that flour- 
ished in the 1960s and 1970s led to enactment of 
both State and federal laws that protect free-flow- 
ing rivers under a "wild and scenic" designation. 
Congress enacted the National Wild and Scenic 
Rivers Act in 1968 and established a system to 
protect selected rivers from development. The act 

intended that the damming and diverting of some 
rivers be complemented by preserving other rivers, 
or parts of them, in their free-flowing condition to 
protect water quality and promote conservation in 

In 1972, the State Legislature passed the California 
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which states that cer- 
tain rivers have scenic, recreational, fishery, or 
wildlife values that should be preserved in their 
natural state for the benefit of the public. The act 
prohibits dams, reservoirs, or other water impound- 
ment facilities on rivers designated as wild and 
scenic. Diversions for local domestic uses are per- 
missible. It also bars State agencies "... from 
assisting or cooperating in the planning, financing, 
or constructing of any project which would have an 


Since Trinity Dam was completed in the early 1960s, sill has gradually covered Trinity River spawning gravels, preventing salmon 
from using them. A river restoration program that includes loosening gravels with heavy equipment has been highly successful, 
and spawning salmon are now increasing dramatically. 


adverse effect on the free-flowing or natural condi- 
tion of the rivers in the State System." 

The national and State systems differ principally on 
one point: if a river has been designated only 
under the State's system, the Federal Energy Regu- 
latory Commission may issue a license to build a 
dam on a protected river under the Federal Power 
Act. FERC contends that the Federal Power Act 
preempts State law, including California's Wild and 
Scenic Rivers Act. FERC, however, is clearly 
bound by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 
and this fact gives one reason why environmental- 
ists seeking to protect rivers from development 
prefer to seek national designation. At present, 
Congress is debating whether to include portions of 
the Kings and Merced rivers and the North Fork of 
the Kern River in the national system. 



PRIOR TO 1981 


Mono Lake 

Mono Lake, one of the oldest lakes in North 
America, lies at the center of the Mono Basin, 
northeast of Yosemite National Park. It has a 
number of distinctive natural features that many 
people believe should be preserved for future gen- 
erations, which is one reason Congress established 
the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area in 
1984. The lake is the terminus for several streams 
in the Mono Basin, and, except for what evapo- 
rates, water flowing into the lake remains there. 
Although no fish live in the lake (where the water 
is 2)^ times saltier than sea water), it supports huge 
populations of brine shrimp and brine flies that are 
the major food supply for thousands of California 
gulls that breed there. It is also an important stop- 
over for 79 waterbird species, including 30 percent 
of the world's population of Wilson's phalaropes 
that rest and feed at Mono Lake during migration. 

Water diverted from four Mono Lake tributaries 
has been flowing to Los Angeles since 1941, when 
the city began moving Mono Basin water through 
its 338-mile aqueduct system. This water repre- 
sents about one-sixth of the city's total water sup- 
ply, and, en route to Los Angeles, it generates 300 
million kilowatthours of hydroelectric power annu- 

Smith River, Del Norte County, one of 12 California 
streams protected as wild and scenic rivers. 


ally. In 1974, the State Water Resources Control 
Board granted licenses for the continued operation 
of the city's Mono Basin Project. 

The Mono Lake Issue 

Los Angeles' water diversions from Mono Basin 
have lowered the lake's water level by more than 
40 feet since 1941 and also increased the lake's 
salinity. If diversions continue at present rates, 
many people fear the lake's ecosystem will fail. 
Yet, if the city reduces its diversions, it will have to 
purchase additional water and energy from other 
more expensive sources — principally, the State 
Water Project. In dry years, such purchases would 
compete for water available to other areas. 

In the summer of 1978, particular concern arose 
over Mono Lake when the lake's water level 

dropped enough to expose a land bridge extending 
from the shoreline to Negit Island, a major nesting 
and breeding area for most California gulls. That 
year marked the formation of the Mono Lake 
Committee, a nonprofit organization dedicated to 
preserving Mono Lake. Through the efforts of this 
group, and with help from the National Audubon 
Society and the Sierra Club, the Mono Lake 
water-depletion issue has received widespread pub- 
licity. These organizations and others have filed 
several lawsuits against the city of Los Angeles and 
the State over Mono Basin water rights. Generally, 
the suits seek to stabilize the lake's water level or 
to protect fisheries in the lake's tributaries. To 
date, no court has ruled on the water rights or fish- 
eries issues. 

The National Research Council, a division of the 
National Academy of Sciences, has studied the lake 

Mono Lake's tufa towers are a major attraction. The towers are formed of solidified salts carried by fresh-water springs that 
well up from the lake bottom. 


to determine whether there actually has been or 
might be a salinity level that will have unacceptable 
effects on the lake's ecosystem, and what that level 
is. Authorized by legislation that established the 
Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, this re- 
search sought to identify a critical lake level re- 
quired to maintain the major wildlife species in the 
Mono Basin. The council's report, issued in 
August 1987, concluded that the lake is in good 
health at present, but a 10- to 20-foot drop from 
its current level would begin noticeably altering its 
ecosystem, while a drop of 30 or more feet would 
make it too salty to support brine shrimp and brine 
flies and the migratory birds that feed on them. 

The Mono Lake situation reflects the full range of 
important environmental issues and processes now 
occurring throughout California — in short, a thor- 
ough re-evaluation of society's long-term use of 

resources in light of changing environmental goals 
and policies. Resolving the Mono Lake issue in a 
way that significantly reduces the amount of water 
diverted to Los Angeles would affect other parts of 
California's water allocation system, a factor that 
must be taken into account in the balancing proc- 
ess that the California Supreme Court mandated in 
the Audubon suit. Specifically, the court required 
that Los Angeles' water demands be weighed 
against the public trust values at Mono Lake and 
that the best compromise be found. Whatever the 
outcome, it will play a decisive role in planning for 
future water needs. 

The Bay-Delta System 

Bordered by salt ponds, marshes, and industrial 
development, San Francisco Bay is part of a com- 
plex Bay-Delta system called the Sacramento-San 

A satellite view of Mono Lake, high in the eastern Sierra Nevada. The lake is the focus of continuing controversy because the city 
of Los Angeles taps streams feeding the lake for part of its water supply and hydroelectric power, lowering the lake 's level. 


Joaquin estuary. Generally, the system consists of 
two parts — San Francisco Bay and Suisun Marsh- 
Delta — divided by the saline waters of the Car- 
quinez Strait that separate Vallejo and Benicia. 

Water located west of Vallejo is generally oceanic, 
while Suisun Marsh-Delta water varies from moder- 
ately salty to fresh. Water in the Carquinez Strait 
moves back and forth, depending on fresh-water 
flow, tides, and wind. Suisun Bay becomes quite 
salty during most summer and fall months, espe- 
cially during dry years. (Intrusion of saline water 
into the Delta is discussed in Chapters 7 and 8.) 

When the topic is environmental issues, especially 
those pertaining to fish and wildlife, San Francisco 
Bay and the Delta are unified in the eyes of biolo- 
gists. Many species of special environmental con- 
cern spend most of their lives in these areas, and 
environmental quality in the entire estuary can af- 
fect their lives. The estuary and surrounding wet- 
lands serve as a home or migratory pathway for 


/ V 



Waterfowl in great numbers rely on Suisun Marsh as a 
source of food and a place for rest and shelter. 

many fish and wildlife species. In all, more than 
40 species of fish have been captured in the Delta 
and the Suisun Marsh, and more than 120 adult 
and young anadromous fishes have been identified 
in San Francisco Bay. The Suisun Marsh encom- 
passes 80,000 acres and is the largest contiguous 
wetland remaining in California. It provides impor- 
tant habitat for such endangered species as the 
salt-marsh harvest mouse and the clapper rail (a 
wading bird), and at times serves as host to mil- 
lions of migratory waterfowl. 

Bay-Delta Issues 

Most Bay-Delta environmental issues fall into one 
of three broad categories: loss of wetlands, waste 
discharges, and changes in the timing and volume 
of fresh-water flow. 

During the past 100 years or so, the size of many 
tidal marshes and wetlands in the estuary have 
gradually decreased as a result of agricultural and 
urban development. The marshes provide habitat 
essential to a wide variety of plants and animals, 
and decomposing marsh vegetation is an important 
element in the estuary food chain. Furthermore, 
the marsh acts as a biological filter, with water 
passing through it often leaving in a purer state 
than when it entered. 

Waste discharge has also been a factor since devel- 
opment around the estuary began to intensify. The 
Bay and Delta were once viewed as appropriate 
places to dispose of society's waste products. But 
in the first decade of this century, waste-related 
problems involving bacterial contamination led to 
the closing of local clam and oyster beds to com- 
mercial harvesting. In the southern end of San 
Francisco Bay, where water circulates poorly, dis- 
charge of partially treated sewage has caused dis- 
solved oxygen levels to fall below levels necessary 
for fish. 

In the mid-1970s, improved waste treatment 
changed the focus of the waste discharge issue. 
Specifically, the focus shifted from concern about 
dissolved oxygen problems and esthetics to the ef- 
fects of potentially hazardous substances reaching 
the estuary from a variety of sources, such as 
landfills, municipal and industrial effluents, urban 


runoff, and agricultural waste water. Recently, 
some important estuarine wildlife — including wa- 
terfowl, clams, starry flounder, and striped bass — 
have been found to have elevated concentrations of 
potential toxins. 

Changes in timing of fresh-water flow to the estu- 
ary have occurred because of reservoir operation 
and diversion of fresh water to out-of-basin uses. 
Some people view these changes as threats to the 
estuary's ecological system. The areas of particular 
concern are (1) direct losses of fish and their food 
in the water diverted, (2) changes in estuarine 
circulation patterns that can transport young fish to 
nursery areas, and (3) loss of the essential nutrients 
that ensure the estuary is capable of supporting the 
diverse plants and animals that have been present 

In 1978, the State Water Resources Control Board 
adopted Decision 1485, which presented a plan for 
water quality control. The decision concentrated 
on salinity problems in the Delta and the effects of 
the State Water Project and the Central Valley Pro- 
ject on local fish and wildlife. 

Essentially, the decision requires the Water Re- 
sources Control Board to determine San Francisco 
Bay's outflow needs so that an effective plan to 
protect the Bay may be established. To help meet 
this requirement, representatives of various State 
and federal agencies have included a Bay element 
in their Interagency Ecological Studies Program. 
The goals of the program are to establish the 
fresh-water flow needs of striped bass, chinook 
salmon, and other fish, including those in the Bay, 
and to determine the effects of Delta outflow on 
estuarine circulation patterns. Agencies repre- 
sented include the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California De- 
partment of Fish and Game, the Department of 
Water Resources, and the Water Resources Control 

In 1986, appellate court Justice John T. Racanelli 
held that the Water Resources Control Board had 
not fully exercised its authority to protect the Bay- 
Delta system. He ordered the Board to take a 
"global perspective" of the region when balancing 
all the beneficial water uses that affect the system 

or depend on its good health. By 1990, the Board 
is to develop water quality control plans that esti- 
mate the beneficial uses of Bay-Delta waters and, 
if necessary, impose water rights' restrictions so that 
these plans can be implemented. 

To review Bay-Delta water quality objectives, mod- 
ify them for current knowledge, and determine the 
best way to implement a water quality control plan, 
the Board began hearings in mid-1987 that are 
phased over three years. First, the Board, with 
advice from its regional boards, will consider 
evidence on the beneficial uses of Bay-Delta waters 
and the water quality requirements of those uses. 
Based on this evidence, the Board will prepare a 
draft water quality control plan and a draft pollut- 
ant control policy. It will then receive public 
comment on these draft plans, and, in the final 
phase, receive evidence of ways in which various 
water rights may be conditioned to help meet the 
water quality control plan. 

The Bay-Delta hearings and the requirements of 
the Racanelli decision are evidence of high regard 
for natural resources and their beneficial use. The 
outcome of the Board's three-year effort should 
help clarify useful principles for planners and 
decision-makers as they seek the best combination 
of the water rights system and the public trust 

The Salton Sea 

In 1905, the Colorado River broke through diver- 
sion works of a (then) new canal constructed by 
the California Irrigation Company. For 16 con- 
secutive months, water from the river flowed unim- 
peded into the Salton Sink, a desert region lying as 
much as 278 feet below sea level. Before the 
break could be repaired, the river had created the 
largest lake in California — the Salton Sea. Situ- 
ated 145 miles east of Los Angeles, the sea is more 
than 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. It, like 
Mono Lake, is a terminal lake, with water leaving 
it only by evaporation. 

The Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, which 
extends over 33,000 acres and shelters about 350 
species of birds, lies at the southern end of the 
sea. Thousands of migratory ducks, geese, and 


grebes (diving birds) flock there in winter. Addi- 
tionally, several endangered, rare, or threatened 
wildlife species live there or stop over during migra- 
tion. The sea has also become one of California's 
popular recreation areas, and its thriving marine 
sport fishery is one of the most productive in the 
State. Several commercial marinas, residential rec- 
reational communities, and public parks are now 
located around the sea, and the Salton Sea State 
Recreation Area lies along 20 miles of its northeast- 
ern shoreline. 

In 1924, President Coolidge declared the Salton 
Sea an official drainage sump for runoff from agri- 
cultural lands, which included all lands lying lower 
than 244 feet below sea level. For the past 80 
years, agricultural runoff has carried an average of 
6 million tons of salt into the Salton Sea each year. 
These salts, combined with the loss of fresh water 
to evaporation, have greatly increased the sea's sa- 
linity. Currently, its total dissolved solids content 
measures about 40,000 milligrams per liter. 
(Ocean salinity averages 34,000 milligrams per li- 
ter.) Only runoff, rain, and inflow from the New, 
Alamo, and Whitewater rivers have kept the salin- 
ity level from rising even higher. 

In 1962, the Colorado River Basin Regional Water 
Quality Control Board declared in its basin plan 
that the primary beneficial use of the Salton Sea is 
to receive agricultural drainage water. In 1968, the 
California Legislature affirmed that the primary 
function of the sea is to act as a drainage water 
sump. Yet, to many people, the Salton Sea is 
much more than a waste-water discharge site. To 
some, its value is measured by the record numbers 
of trophy-sized sport fish that have been caught 
there. Others see it as a biological haven worth 
preserving, or as a prime recreational area that pro- 
vides livelihoods for many people and millions of 
dollars in State revenue each year. 

The Salton Sea Dilemma 

For the past several years, the major problems at 
the Salton Sea have been high water levels caused 
by increased agricultural runoff, treated urban 
waste-water flows from the Coachella and Imperial 
valleys, above-average rainfall from 1976 through 

1983, and inadequately treated municipal waste- 
water flows from Mexico. Because of its increased 
water volume, the sea has badly damaged some 
agricultural, recreational, and residential property 
along its shores. 

In June 1984, the Water Resources Control Board 
adopted Water Rights Decision 1600, which de- 
clared that the Imperial Irrigation District was wast- 
ing water in violation of California's Constitution. 
The decision forced Imperial Irrigation to prepare a 
conservation program and take other steps to pre- 
vent water from being misused. Imperial also 
agreed to follow a nine-year plan designed to con- 
serve irrigation water and lower the Salton Sea's 
water level by about 8 feet. Not everyone was sat- 
isfied with the plan, however, and many wildlife 
advocates, Salton Sea residents, and business own- 
ers told Imperial and State officials they feared the 
district's plan would rapidly increase the sea's salin- 
ity, threatening the fishery and recreation business. 


Saltan Sea, in the Imperial and Coachella valleys 227 feet 
below sea level, is the largest lake entirely within California. 
It is sustained chiefly by irrigation drainage. Satellite view 
was taken on August 17, 1979. 


These and other concerns over fish and wildlife 
have focused attention on a physical solution to the 
Salton Sea's rising salinity. One suggestion made in 
1974 called for the construction of a dike near the 
southern end of the sea to impound an area of 30 
to 50 square miles in which the salts would concen- 
trate. In 1974, the cost of this project was an esti- 
mated $58 million to $141 million. Yet, the subse- 
quent rise of the sea above its estimated 1974 ele- 
vations would have overtopped the dike had one 
been built. Currently, federal. State, and local of- 
ficials are working together to determine the feasi- 
bility and cost of a similar project that would in- 
clude modifications necessary to maintain current 
water levels. 

The Salton Sea dilemma illustrates how complex 
water allocation and environmental management 
have become in California. 

The Hetch Hetchy Project 

As this report was in final editing, a long-dormant 
environmental issue of concern to Californians 
throughout this century was again thrust into the 
public spotlight. This is the flooding of Hetch 
Hetchy Valley, part of Yosemite National Park, by 
the city of San Francisco in the 1920s to develop 
its principal water supply. The renewed interest in 
this issue was raised by Secretary of the Interior 

Donald Hodel, when he suggested that study should 
be given to dismantling O'Shaughnessy Dam and 
restoring the long-flooded valley. 

Reaction to the Secretary's proposal has ranged 
from cries of outrage by San Francisco political 
leaders and water users to smiles on the faces of 
many water officials. Their amusement arises not 
from endorsement of the idea but from the irony 
of the situation since, in their view, San Francis- 
cans have smugly criticized other water projects 
throughout the State over the years, while choosing 
to ignore their city's environmental transgression. 

Most water engineers tend to view the proposal as 
not practical. This is not only because of the costs 
of dismantling the dam and developing a new water 
supply for San Francisco, but also because the city 
obtains very large revenues from the sale of both 
water and hydroelectric energy produced by the 
project. On the other hand, environmentalists 
seem to be taking the idea seriously and, in all 
likelihood, it will be with us as an issue for some- 
time to come. On September 11, the last day of 
the 1987 legislative session, the Legislature 
approved Assembly Bill 645, which directs the De- 
partment of Water Resources to make an overview- 
type study of the proposal and report to the Legis- 
lature by December 31, 1989. 

O'Shaughnessy Dam impounds water in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. 

:^- -^^ 







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1 ■ 











(he development and use of water in California is 
governed by a complex system of State and federal 
laws which have evolved over many, many years. 
Individual components of the legal system include: 

Common law principles. 

Constitutional provisions. 

Statutes approved by the Legislature or the 

Statutes approved by the Legislature and then 
approved by the people. 

Judicial decisions in both State and federal 


EJ Agreements. 

This system of law governing water is not fixed but 
evolves year by year as new issues are raised which 
require changes and new interpretations. However, 
as is common throughout the West, most changes 
are incremental, rather than sweeping, recognizing 
the cautious and protective view that westerners 
have about water. 

This chapter summarizes the major changes and 
additions to water legislation, litigation, and agree- 
ments that have occurred in the last few years. It 
also includes a discussion of recent trends in fed- 
eral regulatory efforts on waterways and wetlands. 

Recent Legislation 

A number of State laws have been enacted that 
signal shifts in water policy for the State. The 

more important areas include water conservation, 
water transfers, ground water, safe drinking water, 
and water quality. 

Water Conservation 

The ethic of conserving water has been woven 
through law and practice in California for decades. 
It can be traced back to the 1928 Constitutional 
Amendment, which was adopted to ensure the rea- 
sonable and beneficial use and the prevention of 
waste and unreasonable use of water. It states: 

It is hereby declared that because of the conditions prevailing 
in this State the general welfare requires that the water re- 
sources of the State be put to beneficial use to the fullest 
extent of which they are capable, and that the waste or un- 
reasonable use or unreasonable method of use of water he 
prevented, and that the conservation of such waters is to be 
exercised with a view to the reasonable and beneficial use 
thereof in the interest of the people and for the public wel- 

The 1976-77 drought demonstrated, sometimes 
dramatically, that people can cut back on water use 
when an emergency requires it. This experience, 
coupled with the growing cost of major water pro- 
ject development, has led to an array of water con- 
servation programs at the State and local govern- 
ment level. 

The two most recent significant pieces of legislation 
are the Urban Water Management Planning Act of 
1983 and the Agricultural Water Management Plan- 
ning Act of 1986. Both require the larger water 
suppliers, under certain conditions, to prepare 
water management plans. These acts are discussed 
in Chapter 9. 

(Decorative drought-tolerant plants save both water and money. Landscape irrigation accounts for about half the 
water used at residences. 


Water Transfers 

Ground Water 

Interest in water transfers (also known as water 
marketing and water sharing) has grown appreciably 
since the 1976-1977 drought, during which Califor- 
nians learned the enormous value of being able to 
share and exchange water throughout the State's 
vast, interconnected "plumbing" system. 

Between 1980 and 1986, a half dozen laws were 
enacted that were designed to encourage voluntary 
transfers, permit water agencies to transfer their 
surplus water, and require public agencies to allow 
other public agencies to make use of unused con- 
veyance capacity. DWR has been specifically 
directed to establish a program to facilitate volun- 
tary transfers, to prepare a water transfer guide, to 
maintain lists of entities interested in transferring 
water and facilities available to them, and to rec- 
ommend changes in law or policy regarding trans- 

California has been making beneficial use of its 
ground water resources for decades, for both 
municipal and agricultural purposes. Ground water 
is generally controlled by the overlying pumpers — 
many of whom are local government agencies. 
Together with periodic major judicial decisions and 
the growing popularity of and reliance on artificial 
recharge projects, ground water in California has 
been managed quite well. 

Two recent types of ground water legislation are: 

A law enacted in 1985 that authorizes the 
Department of Water Resources to include feasible 
ground water projects as features of the State 
Water Project. 

Two laws enacted in 1986 that applied exist- 
ing provisions dealing with well construction stan- 
dards and reporting requirements to monitoring 

Water Policy Legislation, 1983-1987 

Water Transfer 

Water Conservation 

AB 178 (N. Waters), Chap. 1655 of 1984: Extends 

the law protecting areas of water origin to all future 
exporters from a number of Northern California water- 

AB 2010 (Isenberg), Chap. 1384 of 1986: Author- 
izes Director, DWR, to negotiate with the Bureau of 
Reclamation for State to own or operate part or all of 
federal CVP. 

AB 2746 (Katz), Chap. 918 of 1986: Requires a 
State or local agency owning a water conveyance facility 
to let another local agency transfer water to a purchaser 
by unused capacity; transferor must pay fair compensa- 

AB 3427 (Kelley), Chap. 364 of 1986: Permits a 
water transfer agreement to exist more than 7 years, if 
mutually agreed to by agency and transferee. 

AB 3722 (Costa), Chap. 970 of 1986: Requires 
DWR to set up a program to facilitate the voluntary 
exchange or transfer of water. 

SB 1700 (Torres), Chap. 1241 of 1986: Requires 
DWR to negotiate with the Bureau of Reclamation for 
purchase and transfer of water. 

AB 797 (Klehs), Chap. 1009 of 1983: Establishes 
the Urban Water Management Planning Act to require 
water conservation and management plans by urban 
water suppliers. 

AB 1732 (Costa), Chap. 377 of 1984: Authorizes 
sale of general obligation bonds to cover the State's 
share of waste water projects; for waste water reclama- 
tion projects and water conservation loans. 

AB 2542 (Peace), Chap. 429 of 1984: Provides that 
use of Colorado River water reduced by water conserva- 
tion measures will not cause the loss of water rights. 

AB 1029 (Kelley), Chap. 938 of 1985: Authorizes 
any water supplier or water user to finance water con- 
servation or reclamation and sell the conserved or re- 
claimed water to another water supplier or water user. 

AB 1658 (Isenberg), Chap. 954 of 1986: Requires 
agricultural water suppliers to determine whether they 
have significant opportunities to save water. Existence 
of such opportunity requires that supplier prepare and 
adopt an Agricultural Water Management Plan. 

AB 1982 (Costa), Chap. 6 of 1986: Provides $150 
million in low-interest loans to local agencies for water 
conservation, ground water recharge, and agricultural 
drainage projects. (Approved by voters in June 1986.) 


Water Policy Legislation, 1983-1987 (continued) 

Offstream Storage 

AB 3792 (Isenberg), Chap. 1656 of 1984: Authorizes 
the Los Bancs Grandes Reservoir, south of the Delta, as part 
of the SWP. 

Ground Water and Water Quality 

AB 1362 (Shei), Chap. 1046 of 1983: Establishes regula- 
tory provisions to prevent ground water contamination from 
hazardous substances stored in underground tanks. 

AB 1803 (Connolly), Chap. 881 of 1983 and 
AB 1803 (Connolly), Chap. 818 of 1985: Requires the 
Department of Health Services and local health departments 
to evaluate public water systems for potential contamination. 

AB 2013 (Cortese), Chap. 1045 of 1983: Requires per- 
sons storing hazardous substances in underground containers 
to file a hazardous substance statement with SWRCB. 

AB 2183 (O'Connell), Chap. 378 of 1984: Authorized 
an additional $75 million for the Safe Drinking Water Pro- 

AB 3566 (Katz), Chap. 1543 of 1984: Requires regula- 
tion of toxic pits in order to prevent contamination of ground 

AB 3781 (Shei), Chap. 1584 of 1984: Requires testing of 
underground tanks before and after installation to protect 
ground water from leaks. 

AB 1156 (Areias), Chap. 1034 of 1985: Enacts the 
Groundwater Recharge Facilities Financing Act, authorizing 
DWR to make grants to local agencies for ground water re- 
charge facilities. 

SB 187 (Ayala), Chap. 268 of 1985: Confirms authority 
of DWR to build ground water storage facilities south of the 
Delta as part of SWP; requires DWR to contract with local 
agencies in such programs. 

Fish and Wildlife (State) 

SB 512 (Hart), Chap. 6 of 1984: Enacts the Fish and 
Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Act of 1984, authorizing issu- 
ance of $85 million in bonds for fish and wildlife habitat 
enhancement. (Approved by voters in June 1984.) 

AB 723 (Campbell), Chap. 1259 of 1985: Authorizes 
SWRCB to consider streamflow requirements in applications 
to appropriate water. 

SB 400 (Keene), Chap. 1236 of 1985: Enacts the Fish- 
eries Restoration Act of 1985 for restoration of fishery 
resources and habitat damaged by water diversions and pro- 

SB 1086 (Nielsen), Chap. 885 of 1986: Requires the 
Wildlife Conservation Board, by January 1, 1988, to inven- 
tory land along the upper Sacramento River and determine 
priority of land valuable to fish and wildlife. Creates an Up- 
per Sacramento River Fisheries and Riparian Habitat Coun- 
cil to develop, for submission to the Legislature, the Upper 
Sacramento River Fisheries and Riparian Habitat Manage- 
ment Plan to provide for the protection, restoration, and en- 
hancement of fish and riparian and associated wildlife for the 
area between the Feather River and Keswick Dam. 

Fish and Wildlife (Federal) 

HR 1438 (Chappie, Bosco, Shumway), PL 98-541: 

Establishes the Trinity River Basin Fish and Wildlife Man- 
agement Program to restore and maintain fish and wildlife 
populations in the basin. 

HR 3113 (Miller, Coelho, Lehman), PL 99-546: 

Authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to enter into agree- 
ments for coordinated operation of the federal CVP and SWP 
and to preserve Suisun Marsh. 

HR 4712 (Bosco), PL 99-552: Establishes the Klamath 
River Basin Conservation Area Restoration Program to re- 
store anadromous fishery in the river. 

Delta Levees 

AB 2668 (O'Connell), Chap. 410 of 1986: Authorized 
an additional $100 million for the Safe Drinking Water Pro- 

AB 3127 (Areias), Chap. 1152 of 1986: Requires coun- 
ties and cities to adopt water well abandonment ordinances 
that meet or exceed standards in DWR Bulletin 74-81. 

AB 955 (Peace), Chap. 1271 of 1985: Requires DWR to 
plan for continued water exports, should Delta levees fail. 

AB 3473 (Johnston), Chap. 824 of 1986: Requires 
DWR to inspect local agencies' nonprojecl levees to ascertain 
degree of compliance with maintenance standards. 

SB 2224 (Garamendi), Chap. 1357 of 1986: Authorizes 
DWR and The Reclamation Board to determine the need for 
State financial aid to Delta reclamation and levee districts to 
maintain levees that protect State highways. 


wells. These laws also added several new provi- 
sions designed to protect ground water aquifers 
from contamination. 

Water Quality 

Historically, water quality has been an important 
consideration in water resources planning. Since 
the 1960s, however, quality has assumed even 
greater significance for resources managers at all 
levels of government and in the private sector. 

In 1969 California enacted the Porter-Cologne 
Water Quality Control Act, which gave State 
government the authority and organizational struc- 
ture to regulate the quality of surface and ground 
water. And, in 1972, the federal government en- 
acted the Clean Water Act, which provided millions 
of dollars to control pollution — primarily through 
the construction of municipal and industrial sewage 
treatment facilities. 

Since the passage of the Clean Water Act, numer- 
ous State and federal laws have been passed to 
deal with such problems as land disposal, under- 
ground storage tanks, hazardous and toxic wastes, 
solid waste management, agricultural chemicals and 
pesticides, and — what is probably the most far- 
reaching issue of all — ground water protection. 

The Toxic Enforcement Act (Proposition 65), 
approved by 63 percent of the voters in the 
November 1986 election, prohibits contamination 
of drinking water with chemicals known to cause 
cancer or reproductive sterility and requires that 
clear and reasonable warning be given before any 
exposure to such chemicals. There are a substan- 
tial number of exceptions in the law, as well as stiff 
penalties in the form of fines and jail terms. The 
administrative structure to implement the new law is 
presently being developed. 

The Water Conservation and Water Quality Bond 
Law, approved by the voters in June 1986, author- 
ized the issuance of $150 million in general obliga- 
tion bonds to help finance water conservation, 
ground water recharge, and agricultural drainage 
management. The Water Resources Control Board 
administers the agricultural drainage provisions of 
the new law, and the Department of Water 
Resources administers the water conservation and 
ground water recharge provisions. Under this act. 

local agencies may obtain low-interest loans to de- 
velop and build conservation projects and recharge 


Several major court decisions handed down in re- 
cent years are expected to have significant effects 
on the course of water resources management in 
California. These cases have dealt primarily with 
State and federal authority over water projects, en- 
vironmental protection, and the role and authority 
of the Water Resources Control Board. 

The most significant effect of this recent litigation is 
to increase the authority of the Board over water 
rights matters. Except in situations where its deci- 
sions would conflict with congressional directives, 
the Board may impose conditions on federal pro- 
jects. In the past, the Board has tended to define 
its own role too narrowly and must now protect 
public trust values wherever feasible. In addition, 
it may both retain continuing jurisdiction and 
reconsider previous allocation decisions. 

Recent decisions are tending to strengthen the 
State's water rights appropriation process, while 
conditioning the rights to water that are based on 
riparian and prescriptive rights doctrines. The 
Water Resources Control Board's authority to con- 
duct adjudicatory hearings to prohibit waste and 
unreasonable use of water has recently been 

One area in which the Board's water allocation 
decisions may be weakening is the area of interstate 
transfers of water. Water has been determined by 
the U.S. Supreme Court to be a commodity in 
interstate commerce and a state may not generally 
restrict its export to another state. 


The Coordinated Operation Agreement 

In May 1985, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and 
the Department of Water Resources reached accord 
on the Coordinated Operation Agreement (COA) 
for coordinated operation of the Central Valley 
Project and the State Water Project. Following 
lengthy negotiations among the many affected 



U.S. Supreme Court Case& 

California v. United States (1978) 

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in operating New Melones 
Reservoir, must comply with State water rights law, unless it 
is inconsistent with congressional directives lo do so. This is 
the leading Supreme Court decision requiring the United 
States, in most instances, to comply with the substance and 
procedures of Slate water rights law. The Ninth Circuit 
Court of Appeal later held that the conditions imposed by the 
State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) on New 
Melones were consistent with congressional directives {United 
Slates V. State of California, State Water Resources Control 
Board, 694 F.2d 1171 (1982) ). 

(438 U.S. 645, 98 S.Ct. 2985) 

United States v. New IVIexico (1978) 

This case limited the amount of water the U.S. Forest Serv- 
ice could claim under the "reserved rights doctrine" to water 
necessary for the primary purposes for which the National 
Forests were reserved; that is, preservation of timber and 
securing favorable flows for private and public uses under 
state law. Water for secondary purposes — for example, 
stock watering and environmental, recreational, or scenic 
purposes — could be acquired only in the same manner as 
any other public or private appropriator under state law. The 
California v. United States and the New Mexico cases both 
emphasize Congress' historic deference to state water law. 

(438 U.S. 696, 98 S.Ct. 3012) 

California Cases 

National Audubon Society v. Superior Court 

The public trust doctrine applies to the City of Los Angeles' 
rights to divert water from streams tributary to Mono Lake. 
The State retains supervisory control over its navigable waters 
under the public trust to protect such uses as navigation, 
fisheries, commerce, recreation, and scenic and environ- 
mental values. This prevents any person from obtaining a 
vested right to appropriate water in a manner harmful to the 
public trust. As a matter of necessity, SWRCB may grant 
rights to take water needed in distant parts of the State, even 
if public trust uses are harmed, but it must take public trust 
into account and protect public trust values wherever feasible. 
SWRCB retains continuing supervision and may reconsider 
allocation decisions, even if the decisions were made after 
consideration of public trust values. SWRCB and California 
courts have concurrent jurisdiction to consider and protect 
public trust values. 

(33 Cal.3d 419, 189 Cal.Rptr. 346) 

Imperial Irrigation District v. State Water 
Resources Control Board (1986) 

After an adjudicatory hearing, SWRCB found that failure to 
undertake additional water conservation measures was unrea- 
sonable under Article X, Section 2, of the California Consti- 
tution. The Court affirmed SWRCB 's authority under the 
Constitution and Water Code Section 275 to conduct such a 
hearing and to enforce its order. 

(186 Cal.App.3d 1160, 231 Cal.Rptr. 283) 

United States v. State Water Resources 

Control Board (1986) 

[The Consolidated Delta Cases] 

This decision (Racanelli) covers eight cases challenging 
SWRCB's Decision No. 1485, issued in 1978, and its Water 
Quality Control Plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta 
and Suisun Marsh. The decision recognizes SWRCB's broad 
authority and discretion over water rights and water quality 
issues, including jurisdiction over the federal CVP. 

(182 Cal.App.3d 82, 227 Cal.Rptr. 161) 

Fullerton v. State Water Resources Control Board 

(90 Cal.App.3d 590, 153 Cal.Rptr. 518) 

California Trout, Inc. v. State Water Resources 
Control Board (1979) 

(90 Cal.App.3d 816, 153 Cal.Rptr. 672) 

These two cases hold that an appropriation of water cannot 
be made for instream flows because some physical control 
over the water is a necessary element of the doctrine of ap- 


interests, federal legislation authorizing the agree- 
ment was approved in October 1986. Authoriza- 
tion to execute the Suisun Marsh Agreement was 
included in the legislation. The Department and 
the Bureau signed the COA in November 1986. 

The Coordinated Operation Agreement sets forth 
the basis upon which the CVP and the SWP will be 
operated to ensure that each project receives an 
equitable share of the Central Valley's available 
water. This apportioning guarantees that the two 
systems will operate more efficiently in combination 
than they would if they were operated independ- 
ently of one another. The major provisions of the 
agreement are: 

■ Both parties will meet present Delta water 
quality standards set by the Water Resources Con- 
trol Board. The Bureau of Reclamation will meet 
future standards set by the Board, unless the Secre- 
tary of the Interior determines those standards are 

inconsistent with congressional directives. In that 
case, the Secretary is to ask the Department of 
Justice to bring suit to see whether the new stan- 
dards apply to the United States. 

It allows the State to buy interim water from 
the CVP for SWP contractors. 

It allows the Bureau to contract to transport 
federal water in the California Aqueduct for the 
Bureau's contractors in amounts equal to the 
amount the Department of Water Resources buys 
from the federal project. The Department may 
also move additional federal water, as long as doing 
so does not cut into State project supplies or in- 
crease the cost of water to State contractors. 

B It clears the way for the Bureau of Reclama- 
tion to initiate the contract process for sale and 
delivery of additional CVP water. (A moratorium 
had been placed on new contracts, pending signing 
of the COA.) 

The Department of Water Resources and the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation capped more than 25 years of negotiation on Novem- 
ber 24, 1986, when they agreed to coordinate the operations of the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The 
Coordinated Operation Agreement was signed by David N. Kennedy (left), DWR Director, and David G. Houston (right), USER 
Regional Director, Mid-Pacific Region. Looking on are Governor George Deukmejian (center) and Robert J. Moore, the Re- 
sources Agency's Washington, DC. representative. 


Suisun Marsh Preservation Agreement 

The Suisun Marsh consists of a 55,000-acre wet- 
land area in southern Solano County, just beyond 
the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin 
Rivers. One of the largest contiguous brackish 
water marshes in the United States, the marsh is a 
unique and irreplaceable resource. During the fall 
and winter, waterfowl traveling along the Pacific 
Flyway depend on the marsh as a feeding and rest- 
ing area. Because upstream water diversions have 
reduced the Delta outflows that keep the marsh 
viable, water rights Decision 1485, issued by the 
Water Resources Control Board in 1978, ordered 
the Bureau and DWR to develop a plan to protect 
the marsh. The plan was subsequently developed 
by DWR, and the initial facilities were completed in 
1981. Completion of the plan depended on the 
outcome of negotiations among the Suisun Resource 
Conservation District, the Department of Fish and 
Game, the Bureau of Reclamation, and DWR. 

Subsequent to completion of the initial facilities, 
the four agencies worked toward an agreement that 
would moderate the adverse effects of all upstream 
diversions on the water quality in the marsh. The 
agreement, approved in March 1987, describes fa- 
cilities proposed to be constructed, a construction 
schedule, cost-sharing responsibilities of the State 
and federal governments, water quality standards, 
soil salinity, water quality monitoring, and purchase 
of land to mitigate the impacts of the Suisun Marsh 
facilities themselves. 

An interesting feature of the agreement is that it 
defines a schedule and sequence of construction for 
the facilities of the Plan of Protection and provides 
for test periods during which the effectiveness of 
the constructed facilities are to be evaluated. As- 
sessments will then be made to determine whether 
additional facilities will be needed to meet the 
water quality standards of the agreement. 

Fish Protection Agreement 

The Harvey O. Banks Delta Pumping Plant lies at 
the head of the California Aqueduct near the city 
of Tracy. It lifts water 244 feet from the Clifton 
Court Forebay in the Sacramento-San Joaquin 
Delta to Bethany Reservoir, where it begins its jour- 
ney west to the southern San Francisco Bay area 

and south to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern 
California. When the plant was initially con- 
structed, seven of the eleven pumping units 
planned were installed. The remaining four units 
were to be installed in later years when the de- 
mand for water had increased. 

Development of an environmental impact report for 
the additional units began in the early 1980s. In 
January 1986, the Department of Water Resources 
released the flnal EIR; however, the next action, 
the filing of a Notice of Determination, was delayed 
until negotiations were completed for an agreement 
between the Departments of Fish and Game and 
Water Resources for preservation of fish affected 
by the operation of the pumps. 

A unique aspect in the development of this agree- 
ment was the assistance provided by an advisory 
group made up of representatives from United An- 
glers, the Pacific Coast Federation of Commercial 
Fishermen's Associations, the Planning and Conser- 
vation League, and the State Water Contractors. 

The agreement, signed by the directors of the two 
departments in December 1986, identifies the steps 
needed to offset adverse fishery impacts of the 
State Water Project. It sets up a procedure to cal- 
culate direct flshery losses annually and requires 
the Department of Water Resources to pay for miti- 
gation projects that would compensate for or offset 
the losses. Losses of striped bass, chinook salmon, 
and steelhead will be mitigated first. Losses of 
other species will be mitigated later, as impacts are 
identified and appropriate mitigation measures 
found. Water Resources will also provide $15 mil- 
lion to begin a restoration program to bring fishery 
levels back to what they would have been, had the 
project not been in operation. 

Federal Waterway and 
Wetland Protection 

In recent years, federal laws regarding protection of 
wetlands, protection of environmental quality, and 
preservation of endangered species have played an 
increasingly greater role in the planning, develop- 
ment, and operation of water projects. Even in the 
absence of state regulations, federal law can require 
major undertakings to protect natural resources. 


Federal law specifically regulates activities that may 
affect navigable waters or wetlands. These laws 
apply, whether or not a state also regulates these 
activities. There have been cases in which federal 
law has stopped or substantially modified a project 
that had received authorization by a state with few 
or no wetland protection policies. Federal regula- 
tions can exert a significant influence on water pro- 
jects that may affect navigable waters, wildlife habi- 
tat, or wetlands. Waterways and wetlands are af- 
fected by two programs, both administered by the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that bring into play 
many other federal laws designed to protect envi- 
ronmental quality, fish and wildlife, water quality, 
and endangered species. 

Corps of Engineers' Permits 

The Corps of Engineers has been charged by Con- 
gress with protecting navigable waters and adjacent 
wetlands. It does this through two statutes. Section 
10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and Sec- 
tion 404 of the Clean Water Act of 1972. 

Section 10, Rivers and Harbors Act, makes it un- 
lawful to obstruct navigable waters, or to excavate, 
fill, or otherwise modify the course, location, or 
navigable capacity of any navigable body of water 
in the United States without first obtaining permis- 
sion from the Corps of Engineers. Section 10 ap- 
plies to waterways that carry interstate commerce or 
that could carry interstate commerce, either in their 
natural condition or with reasonable modification. 
This definition includes all tidal waters to the mean 
high tide line and all navigable rivers and lakes to 
the ordinary high water mark. 

Section 404, Clean Water Act, requires a permit 
from the Corps of Engineers for any activity that 
results in disposal of dredged material or placement 
of fill material in the waters of the United States. 
This requirement is deceptively simple, but in actu- 
ality, the Clean Water Act, including Section 404, 
has been given the broadest possible interpretation 
in the federal courts, which have found that it also 
refers to any structures or fills introduced into U.S. 
bodies of water. Moreover, Section 404 governs 
all interstate waters and waters within a state that 
may affect interstate or foreign commerce, includ- 
ing those that interstate travellers may use for rec- 

reation, those from which fish may be taken and 
sold in interstate commerce, or those that could be 
used for industrial purposes by industries in inter- 
state commerce. This may include virtually all sig- 
nificant water bodies within a state. 

When Section 404 was first carried out by the 
Corps, some argued that its jurisdiction should be 
the same as that of Section 10, applying only to 
traditionally navigable waters. However, the first 
court to interpret Section 404 held that it should 
apply as broadly as the U.S. Constitution permits 
because that was the intent of Congress in enacting 
the Clean Water Act. That interpretation was con- 
firmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States 
v. Riverside Bayview Homes, Inc. (1985). Many 
other court decisions have since confirmed that 
protection of wetlands is one of the major purposes 
of Section 404, and the Corps' regulations and 
policies for Section 404 emphasize nondegradation 
of wetlands. 

Although Section 404 is administered by the Corps, 
the Environmental Protection Agency has a veto 
power over a Corps determination to issue a per- 
mit. This power is rarely exercised. In one case, 
however, the courts confirmed an EPA veto of a 
permit for a shopping center in Attleboro, Massa- 
chusetts, that would have been constructed in an 
undisturbed deciduous wetland. The project had 
received all state permits, but EPA and the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that the 
Corps deny the permit. When the Corps did issue 
the permit, EPA suspended it by initiating proceed- 
ings under Section 404. Two U.S. District Courts 
have upheld EPA's actions. The matter is still in 

Several federal laws apply to most permits issued by 
agencies of the United States, including the Corps 
of Engineers. The best known include the National 
Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species 
Act, the water quality certification required by Sec- 
tion 401 of the Clean Water Act, and the Fish and 
Wildlife Coordination Act. In addition to meeting 
the requirements of Section 10 or Section 404, ap- 
plicants must comply with these other laws before 
the Corps may issue a permit. These laws also play 
an important part in the development and opera- 
lion of water projects. Most of them apply to 


actions taken directly by federal agencies and to 
nonfederal projects funded or permitted by federal 

The National Environmental Policy Act 

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is 
substantially similar to the California Environmental 
Quality Act (CEQA). It declares that the federal 
government must use all practicable means, consis- 
tent with other considerations of national policy, to 
protect and enhance the quality of the environ- 
ment. It requires all federal agencies to prepare an 
environmental impact statement (EIS) for major 
federal actions significantly affecting environmental 
quality. The content of a federal EIS is very simi- 
lar to that required by CEQA for a State environ- 
mental impact report. Federal agencies must inter- 
pret their statutory authorities and traditional poli- 
cies to carry out NEPA's objectives. 

The Endangered Species Act 

The federal Endangered Species Act is designed to 
conserve ecosystems essential to endangered and 
threatened species, promote conservation of such 
species, and fulfill the purposes of international 
treaties and conventions of the United States. 
(The State of California has an Endangered Species 
Act that resembles the federal act.) The federal 
act includes animals, fish, insects (other than 
pests), and plants. An endangered species is one 
in danger of extinction in all or a significant por- 
tion of its range; a threatened species is one likely 
to become endangered. The act protects endan- 
gered species through three major mechanisms: (1) 
listing of endangered or threatened species, (2) 
federal agency consultation and protection responsi- 
bilities, and (3) a prohibition of takings of endan- 
gered species. One of the major strategies of the 
act is preserving habitat that is critical to the sur- 
vival of an endangered or threatened species. 

The Endangered Species Act requires the Secretary 
of the Interior to list all species that are threatened 
or endangered. Interested citizens may also initiate 
the listing process. A listing is accomplished 
through the rule-making process, with a proposed 
listing being noticed in the Federal Register. Final 
lists are published in the Federal Register and ulti- 

mately in the Code of Federal Regulations. These 
lists are revised often. Recently, citizens have 
requested a listing of the winter run of salmon in 
the Sacramento River under these procedures. 

The act's second major protection is the inter- 
agency consultation requirement. All federal agen- 
cies are required to use their existing authorities to 
further the act's purposes. Each agency, including 
the Corps of Engineers, must ensure that any 
action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not 
likely to jeopardize threatened or endangered spe- 
cies or critical habitat. The agency engaged in any 
such activity must consult with the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries 
Service on the extent to which the action will cause 
such jeopardy. The Secretary of the Interior must 
determine the extent to which jeopardy exists, 
including suggestions for reasonable and prudent 
alternatives. These alternatives must be imple- 
mented, either by the federal agency or by the ap- 
plicant for a license. 

Following the controversy over the Tellico Dam in 
Tennessee and the snail darter fish. Congress 
amended the Endangered Species Act to provide a 
very limited exemption procedure. An Endangered 
Species Committee, consisting of Cabinet officers, 
may grant an exemption if it finds that there are 
no reasonable or prudent alternatives, that the 
benefits of the proposed action clearly outweigh the 
benefits of other courses of action, that the action 

San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel 


has regional or national significance, and that rea- 
sonable mitigation or enhancement measures are 

The act's third major protection is its prohibition 
on taking endangered or threatened species within 
the United States or its territories. Related acts, 
such as transportation or possession of listed species 
or their parts, are also unlawful. 

The Corps of Engineers has denied several permits 
for subdivisions or other developments within tidal 
or former tidal areas because these projects would 
have been detrimental to the habitat of endangered 
species, including the salt-marsh harvest mouse and 
the light-footed clapper rail. Any water project 
that requires a permit from the Corps of Engineers 
would trigger the requirements of the Endangered 
Species Act, if it were found to endanger a listed 
species or its critical habitat. 

The Endangered Species Act can also affect the 
design, construction, and operation of water or 
flood control projects. Stampede Reservoir was 
constructed in the late 1960s on the Little Truckee 
River by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as a 
water supply facility. The Secretary of the Interior 
subsequently determined that the entire yield of the 
reservoir was required to conserve endangered and 

threatened species of fish in Pyramid Lake, 
Nevada. A federal court in Reno and the Ninth 
Circuit Court of Appeal have upheld the Secre- 
tary's authority to refuse to execute water contracts 
and instead use the yield for the endangered and 
threatened fish in the lake. 

The Endangered Species Act may affect operation 
and maintenance of existing facilities. For exam- 
ple, the valley elderberry longhorn beetle, a threat- 
ened species, lives only on elderberry growing along 
streambanks in some parts of the Sacramento and 
San Joaquin valleys. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service has designated a portion of the American 
River parkway as critical habitat for this species. 
This has necessitated specialized vegetation man- 
agement practices within the American River flood- 
way and training for persons performing vegetation 
management so that they can recognize the pro- 
tected elderberry habitat. If the winter run of 
salmon in the Sacramento River were also to be 
listed under the act, it could significantly affect the 
operation of existing water facilities, as well as the 
construction of new facilities. 
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act 

The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act and re- 
lated acts express the will of Congress to protect 
the quality of the aquatic environment as it affects 

Bald Eagle 

Swainson's Hawk 

San Joaquin Kit Fox 


the conservation, improvement, and enjoyment of 
fish and wildlife resources. Under this act, any 
federal agency that proposes to control or modify 
any body of water, or to issue a permit therefor, 
must first consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and 
the California Department of Fish and Game. The 
Corps' informal practice is to refrain from acting 
on a permit until the applicant and the fish and 
wildlife agencies have attempted to identify appro- 
priate mitigation measures. 

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act 

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act requires any 
applicant for a federal permit or license that may 
result in a discharge of a pollutant to waters of the 

United States to obtain a certification from the Re- 
gional Water Quality Control Board where the dis- 
charge would occur (in California). The certifica- 
tion must find that the discharge will comply with 
all applicable effluent limitations and water quality 
standards. A certification obtained for construction 
of a facility must also pertain to its operation. 

Other Federal Acts 

Other federal acts that may apply to Corps permits 
include the Coastal Zone Management Act of 
1972, which requires compliance with approved 
state coastal zone management programs; the Fed- 
eral Power Act; the National Historic Preservation 
Act of 1966; the Deepwater Port Act of 1974; the 
Marine Mammal Protection Act; and the Wild and 
Scenic Rivers Act. 


!^\ ^ 

Mouth of the Klamath River in Del Norte County 








To Convert from Metric Unit 

To Customary Unit 

Multiply Metric 
Unit By 

To Convert to Metric 

Unit Multiply 

Custonnarv Unit Bv ^ 


Length ^^^^H 

■ millimetres (mm) ^^^^^^^^| 

^■inches ^^^^^^^| 

Bo 03937 

25 4 ^^^^^^H 


centimetres (cm) fo^no^aeptn 

inches (in) 

^0 3937 

2 54 ^^^^^B 


metres (m) 

feet (ft) 

3 2808 

03048 ^H 

kilometres (km) 

miles (mi) 


1 6093 ^ 


square millimetres (mm') 

square inches (in') 


645 16 1 

square metres (m') 

square feet (ft') 

10 764 

0092903 1 

hectares (ha) 

acres (ac) 


040469 1 

square kilometres (km') 

square miles (ml') 


2 590 


litres (L) 

gallons (gal) 


3 7854 


million gallons (10* gal) 


3 7854 

cubic metres (m') 

cubic feet (ft') 



cubic metres (m') 

cubic yards (yd') 

1 308 


cubic dekametres (dam') 

acre-feet (ac-ft) 


1 2335 


cubic metres per second (mVs) 

cubic feet per second 



litres per minute (L/min) 

gallons per minute 


3 7854 

litres per day (L/day) 

gallons per day (gal/day) 


3 7854 

megalitres per day (ML/day) 

million gallons 
per day (mgd) 


3 7854 

cubic dekr.metres per day 

acre-feet per day (ac- 


1 2335 




kilograms (kg) 

pounds (lb) 

2 2046 


megagrams (Mg) 

tons (short, 2,000 lb) 

1 1023 



metres per second (m/s) 

feet per second (ft/s) 

3 2808 



kilowatts (kW) 

horsepower (hp) 

1 3405 



kilopascals (kPa) 

pounds per square inch 


6 8948 

kilopascals (kPa) 

feet head of water 


2 989 

Specific Capacity 

litres per minute per metre 

gallons per minute per 
foot drawdown 




milligrams per litre (mg/L) 

parts per million (ppm) 



Electrical Con- 

microsiemens per centimetre 

micromhos per centimetre 






degrees Celsius (°C) 

degrees Fahrenheit (°F) 

(1 8 X °C) + 32 (°F-32)/l 8 


George Deukmejian 


State or California 

Gordon K. Van VIeck 
Secretary for Resources 
The Resources Agency 

David N. Kennedy 


Department of Water Resources 

Robert G. Potter 

Deputy Director 

Salle S. Jantz 

Assistant Director 

John P. Caffrey 

Deputy Director 

Susan N. Weber 

Chief Counsel 

Robert E. Whiting 
Deputy Director 


Arthur C. Gooch, Chief 


Don Finlayson, Chief 

Ralph Allison, Program Manager 
Statewide Planning 


Northern District 

Red Bluff 

Wayne Gentry, Chief 

Central District 


Jim McDaniel, Chief 

San Joaquin District 


Louis Beck, Chief 

Southern District 

Los Angeles 

Carlos Madrid, Chief 


Warren Cole 
John Fielden 
Ray Hart 
Lynda Herren 
Glenn Sawyer 
Susan Talayon 
Karl Winkler 
Rick Woodard 


Earl Bingham 
Travis Latham 
Ed Pearson 
Dan Wightman 


Bill Wilson 
Paulyne Joe 
Teresa Chaney 


Clair A. Hill, Chairman 


Stanley M. Barnes, 
Vice Chairman 


Harold W. Ball 

La Mesa 

Katherine B. Dunlap 

Los Angeles 

Leon E. Henry 


James J. Lenihan 

Los Altos 

Martin A. Matich 

San Bernardino 

Audrey Z. Tennis 


Jack G. Thomson 


Orville L. Abbott 

Executive Officer and 
Chief Engineer 

Tom Y. Fujimoto 

Assistant Executive Officer 

The California Water Commission serves as a policy advisory body to the Director of Water Resources on all Cali- 
fornia water resources matters. The ninc-mcmbcr citizen commission provides a water resources forum for the 
people of the State, acts as a liaison between the legislative and executive branches of Slate government, and coor- 
dinates federal. State, and local water resources efforts. 



California-American Water Company, Monterey District, page 63 

Carmen Magana, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, page 107 

Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, page 80 

CH2MHill, Redding, page 58 

Cynthya Rackerby, pages 82 (right), 98 

David Policansky, page 102 

EMS Laboratories, South Pasadena, page 83 (right) 

Kjeldsen-Sinnock and Associates, Inc., page 72 

Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, page 29 

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, page 8 

Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency, page 54 

National Aeronautic and Space Administration, pages 103, 106 

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, page 88 

Orange County Water District, pages 33, 55 

Pacific Gas and Electric Company History Collection, page 62 

River News Herald, Rio Vista, page 73 

San Diego County Water Authority, page 65 

Suisun Resource Conservation District, page 104 

Triplicate American, Crescent City, page 101 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, page 20 

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, pages 38, 47, 70 (left), 81, 114 

All other photographs by the Department of Water Resources. 

Copies of this bulletin at $5.00 each may be ordered from: 

State of California 
Department of Water Resources 
Post Office Box 942836 
Sacramento CA 94236-0001 

Make checks payable to: DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES 
California residents, please add current sales tax. 


Statistics of Major 
"" ■ " Aque- 


75,000 acre-feet or larger 




Reservoir (Dami 

,n acres 

in ncrc-leet 



Clear Lake (Modoc Couniy) 










Clear Lake (Lake County) 





Huntington Lake 





Big Sage 










Copco Lake 





Helen Hetchy 






























Salt Springs 





El Capitan 





Havasu (Parker) 















San Vicente 










Millerlon (Friant) 

























Pine Flat 


1 ,000,000 




1 240 









Lloyd (Cherry Valley) 















Berryessa (Monticello) 

























Mendocino (Coyote Valley) 





Mammoth Pool 





Little Grass Valley 










Clair Engle (Trinity) 





Kaweah (Terminus) 





Black Butte 





Camp Far West 





Union Valley 










New Hogan 










Loon Lake 





French Meadows 





San Antonio 





Hell Hole 





Davis {Grizzly Valley) 





San Luis 





McClure (New Exchequer) 










New Bullards Bar 















New Don Pedro 





Sllverwood (Cedar Springs) 




















Indian Valley 






1 780 





1 570 

90 000 



New Melones 

12 500 




Sonoma (Warm Springs) 

3 600 





in cubic leet 
per second' 

in miles 



Year 0) 


Los Angeles 
Mokelumne River 





Hetch Hetchy 
All American 





Contra Costa 





Colorado River 















San Diego No 1 















Putah South 





Santa Rosa-Sonoma 





San Diego No 2 




















South Bay 





North Say 





Folsom South 





Cross Valley 





A number ot ma)or canals tn the Central Valley, sor 
the map. could not be included for lack ol space 

Initial reach only (or most irrigation canals 

■Tehama and Glenn Counties 

'Interim facilities 

5 as large as those shown c 

'To Southern Calitorma 
■Reaches 1 and 2 



California Department of Water Resources 


East Bay Municipal Utility District 


Hot Springs Valley Irrigation District 


Kern County Water Agency 


Los Angeles Department of Water and Power 


Monterey County Flood Control and Water Conservation District 


Merced Irrigation Distncl 


Metropolitan Water District of Southern California 


Oakdale Irrigation District— South San Joaquin Irrigation District 


Oroville-Wyandotte Irrigation District 


Placer County Water Agency 


Pacific Gas and Electric Company 


Pacific Power and Light 


Southern California Edison 


Santa Clara Valley Water District 


Sonoma County Water Agency 


City of San Diego 


City and County of San Francisco 


Sacramento Municipal Utility District 


South Sutter Water District 


Turlock Irrigation District— Modesto Irrigation District 


U 8 Army Corps of Engineers 


U S Bureau of Reclamation 


United Water Conservation District 


Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District 


Yuba Couniy Water Agency 

Above natural outlet 


Major Stora^ 
and Conveyai 

e Facilities 



DOf JAN h5 20iO 
DEC 1 1 2009 


D4613-1 (5/02)M