The Big Water Projects in California
California has two gigantic water development systems which capture and store water with many dams and use rivers and canals to redistribute it, generally from Northern California sources (or "areas of origins") to the San Joaquin Valley agricultural users and southern California cities—same as today. They are:
Collapse of Delta fish populations in the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary has accompanied operation of these enormous water systems. Their export of water is premised on magical thinking by state water industry officials and regulators.
These water projects have low priority water rights, which were acquired starting only in the 1920s and 1930s. Their rights are considered "junior" to more "senior" rights held by many irrigation and water districts in the Central Valley as well as rights held by the City and County of San Francisco, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Southern California Edison Corporation, and East Bay Municipal Utilities District (which supplies Mokelumne River water to Alameda and Contra Costa counties).
Originally conceived by state engineers, the US Bureau of Reclamation took over construction of the Central Valley Project. The Bureau claims this profile of the project:
The California State Water Project was approved by the legislature in 1959 and bonds for its construction narrowly approved by California voters in November 1960 (Proposition 1). The California Department of Water Resources claims this profile for the State Water Project:
The Department of Water Resources still claims the overall "Table A amounts" of the State Water Project contractors total 4.23 million acre-feet per year. The project has never in its history delivered that much water, and has delivered no more than about 3.7 million acre-feet in its peak years of 2005 and 2006. During recent drier years, the State Water Project delivered about 2.98 million acre-feet in 2007 and 1.96 million acre-feet in 2008, the most recent years for which data were available.
For more detailed information about the State Water Project see the Department's bond prospectus from 2009 about the Project's operations and financial performance.