Two primary conduits were constructed in the 20th century to move water from northern sources in the Sierras to mostly southern areas of urban and agricultural demand. The Central Valley Project (CVP) was constructed by the US Bureau of Reclamation in the 1930s to transport water from Lake Shasta in the north, providing irrigation and drinking water to portions of the Bay Area and the arid southern San Joaquin Valley. The State Water Project (SWP) was constructed in the 1960s and 1970s by California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to supply drinking and irrigation water, as well as industrial uses, to millions of people and hundreds of thousands of acres in agriculture in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast, and Southern California. The hub of the whole system converges in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Part of the SWP master planning included a peripheral canal to convey Sacramento River water around the Delta, but in the 1980s construction of it was defeated in a statewide referendum. Subsequent planning efforts beginning in the 2000s included the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), which incorporated both conveyance and ecosystem restoration; the CA WaterFix consisting of two, approximately 35-mile tunnels diverting water from the Sacramento River near the towns of Hood and Clarksburg to the existing water export facilities in the south Delta; and currently the Delta Conveyance Project, a single tunnel diversion also beginning at a location between the towns of Hood and Clarksburg.
The proposed Delta Conveyance Project involves two main separate but related processes:
- Environmental permitting, led by Department of Water Resources (state-level) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (federal-level)
- Project engineering and design, led by Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA), a joint powers authority of the State Water Contractors
In addition, the state’s Water Resilience Portfolio is an important initiative affecting Delta communities.
Delta Protection Commission Involvement
Consistent with its legislative mandates, the Commission advocates for the protection of Delta communities, and promotes Delta cultural, agricultural, recreational, and natural resource concerns as an essential element in arriving at a solution to the state’s critical water supply needs. Copies of recent comment letters or actions taken by the Commission on water issues affecting the Delta region (including the single tunnel DWR environmental permitting and DCA construction design processes) will be available here:
- Comment letter on the Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio (February 6, 2020) (PDF)
- Comment letter on Delta Conveyance Project Notice of Preparation (April 15, 2020) (PDF) and attachment to comment letter (PDF)
- Delta Protection Commission Request for Cooperating Agency Status, Delta Conveyance Project (October 15, 2020) (PDF)
For more information contact Virginia Gardiner.
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