California’s Water

Categories: 30 Mar 2011

Overview

California — a state that is home to nearly 40 million residents, critical ecosystems and a $2.5 trillion- economy — depends on a reliable and high-quality water supply.  By 2030, California’s population is projected to reach 44.1 million, according to the California Department of Finance, placing great demands on current water supplies and infrastructure.

Southern California gets two-thirds of its water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta, the Colorado River, and the Owens Valley and Mono Basin and is vulnerable to restrictions on these supplies, including regulatory cutbacks, aging infrastructure, and varying deliveries in wet and dry years.  As a result, these water sources are often unreliable.

Consumers and businesses in Southern California need reliable access to water. Having additional local water sources could help take some of the demand pressure off Northern California sources and ecosystems.

Water Facts

  • An acre-foot of water is approximately 326,000 gallons or enough to cover a football field a foot deep in water. An acre-foot provides for the needs of two typical Southern California families in and around their homes for one year.
  • More than 70% of California’s average annual precipitation – nearly 200 million acre-feet – falls north of San Francisco. However, nearly 80% of the state’s demand for water comes from Central and Southern California.
  • Southern and Central California imports the majority of its water from a combination of federal, state and local water projects.
  • The State Water Project, operated by the Department of Water Resources can deliver over 4 million acre-feet of water to Southern California annually.  Deliveries can vary significantly year to year, from approximately 20% to 80% of requested supplies (see http://www.water.ca.gov/swpao/deliveries.cfm. )
  • The federal Central Valley Project, operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, delivers about 7 million acre-feet annually, primarily for agricultural uses in the Central Valley.
  • The Colorado River Aqueduct owned and operated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California can deliver up to 1.25 million acre-feet of Colorado River water each year to the over 19 million people living in a six-county area of Southern California.  The CRA has operated under capacity for most years between 1980 – 2016.

Water Links

Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

Southern California Water Committee

California Department of Water Resources

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Education Resources

State Water Resources Control Board

Public Policy Institute of California