CALFED Bay-Delta Program heading
  • Governor Brown
  • John Laird, Resources Secretary
  • Joe Grindstaff, CALFED Director

Water Supply Reliability

CALFED’s Water Supply Reliability Program is achieved through five program elements: Conveyance, Storage, Environmental Water Account, Water Use Efficiency and Water Transfers. Together, they comprise CALFED's Water Supply Reliability Program objective. Through partnerships with local and regional agencies, these programs seek to increase water supplies, ensure efficient use of water resources and add flexibility to California’s water system.

What are the goals of the Water Supply Reliability Program?

This program seeks to reduce the mismatch between Delta water supplies, and current and projected beneficial uses dependent upon the Bay-Delta system. Each of the five Program Elements contribute to this overall goal.

History of Water Supply Reliability Program.

The Water Supply Reliability Program emerged with the beginning of CALFED in 2000. It stems from historical conflicts over water in California, where the majority of the state’s population lives in the southern and western parts of the state and the majority of its precipitation occurs in the northern and eastern parts of the state. Conflicts over this mismatch intensified as Southern California emerged as a population center, and whenever the state faced drought conditions. The conflict over sending water from north/east to south/west has also intensified with discussions of a peripheral canal. Since inception of the Water Supply Reliability Program, more water has been reliably delivered than in the years of crisis before the establishment of CALFED.

To that overall success, the Environmental Water Account was credited in its first year of existence (2001) with helping to protect winter-run salmon, Delta smelt and splittail, while continuing water deliveries that otherwise would have been curtailed. In that year, approximately 290,000 acre-feet of EWA water was released at key times. EWA proved its worth again in 2007, when it made up for shortages due to state pumping halts to save threatened Delta smelt.

The Storage Program dates back to the late 1960s, when the majority of California’s reservoirs were built. Designed to provide water for 20 million Californians, they are deemed inadequate for the state’s expected 50 million population projected by 2020. State and federal agencies have considered 52 potential locations for increased surface storage in California, narrowing the list down to five sites based on numerous factors: estimated size, cost, and environmental impacts.

The Conveyance Program is the history of the two largest conveyance projects in California -- the SWP and the federal Central Valley Project (CVP). Construction of CVP began in the late 1930s and SWP followed some 20 years later. Both were multi-year projects that included numerous phases. They allowed vast tracts of previously uninhabitable land to become prosperous farms and bustling cities and fueled the population and economic growth of California.

The Water Transfers Program evolved from a 1976 report of the Governor’s Commission on Water Rights that recognized water transfers as important to the future of California’s water supply. Through CALFED, the roles of the state and federal agencies in the water transfer process changed and they assumed added responsibilities. Water transfers for irrigation and drinking are unlike those of CALFED’s Environmental Water Account that focuses on environmental needs to benefit Delta fisheries when CALFED agencies invoke export reductions.

The Water Use Efficiency Program, with a three-pronged approach through conservation, desalination and recycling, was created in 2000 with the signing of the CALFED Record of Decision. Recycling has been the best funded of the three program components, but all have made progress toward goals.

How does the Water Supply Reliability Program affect the Delta and California?

The lack of a reliable water supply that results in shortages of water would have a devastating effect on the economy of California and the health and welfare of its citizens, as well as the ecosystem of the Delta. California’s precipitation and its population are at odds: the majority of precipitation falls in the north and east while the majority of people live in the south and west. Further, the majority of the state’s food crops are grown in the arid Central Valley. The Water Supply Reliability Program makes it possible for this mismatch of supply and demand to be equalized and has allowed parts of the state that would otherwise not be useable or inhabitable to become populated and productive. The Water Supply Reliability Program, through its subcomponents of the Environmental Water Account, Storage, Conveyance, Transfers and Water Use Efficiency, have all had a role in reshaping the Delta, both literally and figuratively. The Delta has, over the years, been reconfigured to be a conveyance vehicle for tributaries that drain water from the Sierra Nevada into the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. This water flows through the Delta southward to the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project pumps and westward to pumps that supply the Bay Area and then on to the Pacific Ocean. The state and federal pumps channel the Delta water to farmers, business and households throughout Central and Southern California. However, the Water Supply Reliability Program also assures that water will be available to preserve and manage native and important fisheries and other species that contribute to the Delta’s ecosystem through the Program’s Environmental Water Account.

What progress has been made in meeting Water Supply Reliability Program objectives?

The CALFED Record of Decision sets out specific actions to be accomplished during the program’s first seven years or Stage 1. Details of Water Supply Reliability Program performance are available in the Program Performance section of this website.

What benefits have been achieved by the CALFED Water Supply Reliability Program?

New water supplies projected at 687,000 to 860,000 acre feet have been attributed to new groundwater storage and recycling projects in the last seven years. Including storage projects implemented by the program and others by stakeholders, groundwater and surface storage south of the Delta have been increased by more than 4 million acre-feet. Targets of 65-70 percent of contract amounts for water deliveries to the federal water users have been achieved each of those seven years due to favorable hydrology and increased operational flexibility. The Environmental Water Account has eliminated conflicts between fish and water supplies, as well as uncompensated water supply reductions.

What has been spent on the Water Supply Reliability Program since its inception?

Over the past six years, the Water Supply Reliability Program Objective, through its five program elements, has spent $3.2 billion in state, federal and local funds. Details of Water Supply Reliability Program expenditures are available in the Program Performance Projects by Objective section of this website.

What state and federal agencies are responsible for the Water Supply Reliability Program?

Implementing Agencies for the Conveyance Program Element are: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources. Implementing Agencies for the Environmental Water Account are: California Department of Fish and Game, California Department of Water Resources, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries Service). Implementing agencies for the Storage Program Element are the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources. Implementing agencies for the Water Transfers Program Element are the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the California Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board. Implementing agencies for the Water Use Efficiency Program Element are the California Department of Water Resources, the Sate Water Resources Control Board, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

What are the most notable success stories of the Water Supply Reliability Program since its inception?

Target deliveries to agricultural contractors were met during the first six years of the CALFED Record of Decision; however, adverse hydrology and growing Delta conflicts could threatened the goal’s achievement for 2007.The Environmental Water Account has been very successful in eliminating conflicts between fish and water exports through 2006 by purchases of water to replace that used for fish protection measures. Development of groundwater Storage has been very successful and projects funded to date are expected to deliver between 300,000 and 350,000 acre feet of yield per year when completed.

Who is the contact person for this program objective?

Conveyance

Victor Pacheco, P.E.
Chief, Delta Conveyance Branch
Department of Water Resources
1416 Ninth Street, Room 252-18
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 653-6636
Mona Jefferies-Soniea
Delta and Conveyance Branch
Division of Planning
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2830
Sacramento, CA 95825-1898
(916) 978-5068

Environmental Water Account

Kuen Tsay
Senior Engineer
EWA Water Supply Section
Department of Water Resources
1416 Ninth Street, Room 1640-G10
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 653-9495
Tim Rust
Program Management Branch
Division of Resources Management
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
2800 Cottage Way, Room Room E-2905
Sacramento, CA 95825-1898
(916) 978-5516

Storage

Stephen Roberts
Manager
Statewide Infrastructure
Investigations Branch
Department of Water Resources
901 P Street, Second Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651-9249
Ron Ganzfried
Storage Branch
Division of Planningt
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
2800 Cottage Way, Room Room W-2830
Sacramento, CA 95825-1898
(916) 978-5073

Water Use Efficiency

David Todd
Land and Water Use Program Manager
Technical Assistance and Outreach Branch
Investigations Branch
Department of Water Resources
901 P Street, Room 313A
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651-7027
Sheri Looper
Program Management Branch
Division of Resources Management
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
2800 Cottage Way, Room Room E-2905
Sacramento, CA 95825-1898
(916) 978-5219
 
Baryohay Davidoff
Acting Branch Chief
Data Services and Program
Development Branch
Department of Water Resources
901 P Street, Room 313A
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651-9666