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Your Water District

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Imported Surface Water

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The California Aqueduct
(Photo Credit: CA Department of Water Resources)

Roughly 25% of the District's water supply is obtained from imported surface water that originates from northern California and is transported via the State Water Project's California Aqueduct to Lake Silverwood in the San Bernardino mountains. This water is extracted from the lake and directed to the Rialto Feeder, a large pipeline, owned by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, that travels along the foothills, delivering water to area surface water treatment plants.

The Water Facilities Authority (WFA) Agua de Lejos Treatment Plant in Upland treats the surface water to meet drinking water standards and then distributes it to its member agency owners - Monte Vista Water District and the cities of Chino, Chino Hills, Ontario and Upland.

The State Water Project

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A waterway snakes through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
(Photo Credit: CA Department of Water Resources)

The idea for California's State Water Project was born in the 1950's and came into being in the 1960's through the vision, energy and leadership of then Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown who realized the existing water supply system was insufficient to meet the state's growing economy and population. Southern California received it first deliveries in 1972.

The California State Water Project is a water storage and delivery system of 34 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes; 20 pumping plants; 4 pumping-generating plants; 5 hydroelectric power plants and about 701 miles of open canals and pipelines. Its main purpose is to store water and distribute it to 29 urban and agricultural water suppliers in Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast, and Southern California. Of the contracted water supply, 70 percent goes to urban users and 30 percent goes to agricultural users.

The Project, maintained and operated by the California Department of Water Resources, provides supplemental water to 25 million people, two-thirds of California's population, and approximately 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland. The Project is also operated to improve water quality in the Delta, control Feather River flood waters, provide recreation, and enhance fish and wildlife.

The Surface Water Journey

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Snow on Mount Whitney
(Photo Credit: CA Department of Water Resources)

Surface water is produced by melted snow runoff and rainfall in northern California that is captured and stored at Lake Oroville. When needed, it is released into the Feather River, which flows into the Sacramento River to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In the Delta, the State Water Project pumps water from its Delta pumping plant into the California Aqueduct. Some water is pumped into the North Bay Aqueduct to supply Napa and Solano counties and supply flows into the South Bay Aqueduct to serve areas in Alameda and Santa Clara counties. The rest continues flowing south to southern California ending its long journey at various reservoirs and then to treatment facilities, reaching its final destination to millions of homes and businesses.

In winter, when water supplies are generally high, but demands are low, water is diverted and stored in San Luis Reservoir south of the Delta. In spring, when demands increase as farmers begin planting crops, water is taken from both the Delta and San Luis Reservoir. As summer approaches, additional water is released from Lake Oroville and Delta pumping is increased to meet the needs of cities and farms.

Crisis in the Delta

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Jones Tract Levee Break, June 2004
(Photo Credit: CA Department of Water Resources)

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, an inverted river delta that is the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast, is a vital link in California's water system, spanning five counties in northern California at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.

The Delta region is nearly 1,100 square miles, around 70 reclaimed islands and tracts, surrounded by 1,100 miles of levees surrounded by 700 miles of waterways. The delta was originally marshland; reclamation was made by the building of levees, by Chinese laborers in the 1850s.

As a result of the State's increasing population, demand for water and changing environmental conditions, the Delta is in jeopardy of collapse. In April 2009, the Sacramento River Delta was declared the nation's most endangered waterway system by the environmental group American Rivers, due to water shortages caused by the Delta's environmental problems, declining fish populations and aging, fragile levees, among other problems.

The Delta is home to approximately 22 species of fish including the Delta smelt, a key indicator species for the health of the Delta's ecosystem which was found in 2004 to be on the edge of extinction.

A court-inposed reduction in pumping of water on the State Water Project in 2007 to protect fish species has resulted in loss of significant water supply for the 29 water agencies that purchase water from the system since the court ruling.

Solving the California Water Crisis

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Lake Oroville Dam
(Photo Credit: CA Department of Water Resources)

After three years of discussions and negotiations, the California legislature passed landmark legislation that seeks to address the state's water supply crisis. Conservation mandates that will achieve 20 percent reduction in per capita water use by 2020, increased groundwater management and reporting, a new governance structure, and programs to restore the Delta ecosystem and enhance water supply reliability are currently being implemented.

For seven years, state and federal agencies have been developing a long-term plan to make important investments in our statewide water system to avoid outages and restore the Delta ecosystem. The effort, known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), is being crafted to protect water supplies from the impacts of a major earthquake, while simultaneously restoring the Delta's struggling ecosystem. At the heart of the BDCP is a new water conveyance system that would move a portion of water underneath rather than through the fragile Delta. This, coupled with extensive environmental restoration, would establish at least 50 years of water supply reliability and restored habitat. The plan is nearing completion, and we urge you to learn more about this important project.