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Mid-Pacific Region Highlights

Map of the Central Valley Project. Click for a larger map

Central Valley Project


Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region manages the Central Valley Project, one of the world’s largest and best-known systems for storing and moving water. The CVP extends 400 miles from the Cascade Range in the north to the Tehachapi Mountains near Bakersfield in the south. The CVP’s complex, multi-purpose network of dams, reservoirs, canals, hydroelectric powerplants and other facilities across northern and central California serve agriculture and other needs in the semi-arid Central Valley.

The project is a major asset to California’s economy, providing water for most of the top agricultural counties in the nation’s leading farm state. The California Department of Food and Agriculture reported in its 2010 California Agricultural Highlights publication that farm production in the state totaled more than $36 billion. Approximately a third of that production, or about $12 billion, came from the Central Valley.

The project provides flood protection for the Central Valley and supplies domestic and industrial water in the Central Valley, as well as major urban centers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Widespread availability of water, together with hydroelectric power produced at CVP dams, has created hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The project also provides water to restore and protect fish and wildlife, and to enhance water quality. It is also a major source of water for much of California`s wetlands.

Construction of major CVP facilities began in 1938 with breaking of ground for Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River near Redding in northern California. Over the next five decades, the CVP was expanded into a system of 20 dams and reservoirs that together can hold nearly 12 million acre-feet. The CVP includes 500 miles of canals and aqueducts and 11 hydroelectric power plants. In Sacramento, the Central Valley Operations Office jointly controls, with the California Department of Water Resources, the CVP and its companion, the State Water Project.

CVP Water Sources and Destinations

The CVP’s water comes from rain and runoff from the Sierra Nevada Mountains snowpack flowing into reservoirs. Releases from dams pass through rivers and canals to the Central Valley, serving contractors in the northern half, referred to as the Sacramento Valley, and the southern half, referred to as the San Joaquin Valley.

static image:  photo - Shasta Dam in northern California is a major facility in the Central Valley Project
Shasta Dam in northern California is a major facility in the Central Valley Project.

Providing CVP water for agricultural, municipal and industrial, and environmental purposes is a complex process, driven by numerous factors, including hydrology, input from other agencies and organizations, regulations, court decisions, biological opinions, environmental considerations, and operational limitations.

The CVP has long-term agreements to supply water to more than 250 contractors in 29 of California’s 58 counties. Deliveries by the CVP include providing an annual average of 5 million acre-feet of water for farms; 600,000 acre-feet of water for municipal and industrial uses (enough water to supply about 2.5 million people for a year); and water for wildlife refuges and maintaining water quality in the Delta.

CVP Facilities and Water Deliveries

Central Valley Project facilities include reservoirs on several rivers, including the Trinity, Sacramento, American, Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers.

Water from the Trinity River is stored in Clair Engle Lake, Lewiston Lake, and Whiskeytown Reservoir, and diverted through a system of tunnels and powerplants into the Sacramento River for the Central Valley. Water also is stored in Shasta and Folsom reservoirs. Water from these reservoirs, and others operated by the State Water Project and local water rights holders, flows into the Sacramento River. Some of CVP contractors divert water directly from, or immediately below, the dams’ outlets. Other CVP contractors, Sacramento River water rights contractors, and water rights holders divert water directly from the Sacramento and American Rivers.

The Sacramento River carries water to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where it helps form the West Coast’s largest estuary. The C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant at the southern end of the Delta lifts water into the Delta Mendota Canal. The canal delivers water to CVP contractors and exchange contractors on the San Joaquin River and water rights contractors on the Mendota Pool. The CVP water is also conveyed to the San Luis Reservoir for deliveries to CVP contractors through the San Luis Canal. Water from the San Luis Reservoir is also conveyed through the Pacheco Tunnel to CVP contractors in Santa Clara and San Benito counties.

The CVP delivers water from Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River to CVP contractors serviced by the Madera and Friant-Kern canals. Water is stored in New Melones Reservoir for water rights holders in the Stanislaus River watershed and CVP contractors in the northern San Joaquin Valley.

The CVP and the separate State Water Project both convey water in the Sacramento River and the Delta. The CVP reservoir operations are coordinated to obtain maximum yields and deliver water into the main river channels and canals of the project in the most efficient manner.

Irrigation and municipal water is delivered from the main canals in accordance with long-term contracts negotiated with irrigation districts and other local organizations.

CVP Organization

The complex operations of the CVP are organized into divisions and units:

American River Division
The American River Division consists of the Folsom, Sly Park, and Auburn-Folsom South Units. The Division is about midway between the northern and southern extremes of the Central Valley in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Placer, and El Dorado counties. Division lands stretch from Sugar Pine Dam in the north to Stockton in the south. Most land served by the American River Division lies in the southern portion of the Division, between Sacramento and Stockton.

Delta Division
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Division provides for the conveyance of water through the central portion of the Central Valley and the Delta. The main features of the Division are the Delta Cross Channel, Contra Costa Canal, C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant, and the Tracy Fish Collection Facility.

static image:  Grapes are among crops irrigated with CVP water.
Grapes are among crops irrigated with CVP water.

East Side Division, New Melones Unit
The New Melones Dam and Powerplant are on the Stanislaus River, about 60 miles upstream from its confluence with the San Joaquin River and 40 miles east of Stockton. The river forms the boundary between Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. The Division’s drainage area consists of about 980 square miles on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in east-central California. The Stanislaus River Basin has three major tributaries, the North, South, and Middle Forks of the Stanislaus River.

Friant Division
The Friant Division transports northern California water though the southern part of the Central Valley. Main features of the division are Friant Dam, Friant-Kern Canal and Madera Canal.

Sacramento River Division, Sacramento Canals Unit
The Sacramento Canals Unit was designed to provide irrigation water in the Sacramento Valley, principally in Tehama, Glenn, and Colusa counties. The unit consists of Red Bluff Diversion Dam, Funks Dam, Corning Pumping Plant, Tehama-Colusa Canal, and Corning Canal.

San Felipe Division
The San Felipe Division, in the central coastal area of California, extends into Santa Clara County, the northern portion of San Benito County, the southern portion of Santa Cruz County, and the northern edge of Monterey County. The division provides supplemental water to farmland, as well as for municipal and industrial use. Water from San Luis Reservoir is transported to the Santa Clara-San Benito service area through Pacheco Tunnel and other project features, which include 48 miles of closed conduits, two pumping plants, and one small reservoir.

Shasta-Trinity River Divisions
The Shasta and Trinity River Divisions catch the headwaters of a network of CVP waterways and channel the water southward. Both divisions are part of the CVP and are close to each another, with the Shasta Division on the Sacramento River about 10 miles north of Redding and the Trinity River Division on the Trinity River about 25 miles northwest of Redding. Surplus water from the Trinity River Basin is stored and diverted through a system of dams, reservoirs, tunnels, and powerplants into the Sacramento River for use in water-deficient areas of the Central Valley.

West San Joaquin Division, San Luis Unit
The San Luis Unit is a part of the Central Valley Project and California’s State Water Project. Reclamation and the state constructed this unit and operate it jointly. The principal purpose of the federal portion of the facilities is to furnish water as a supplemental irrigation supply to about 600,000 acres in the western portion of Fresno, Kings, and Merced Counties. The joint-use facilities are O`Neill Dam and Forebay, B.F. Sisk San Luis Dam, San Luis Reservoir, William R. Gianelli Pumping-Generating Plant, Dos Amigos Pumping Plant, Los Banos and Little Panoche Reservoirs, and San Luis Canal from O`Neill Forebay to Kettleman City. The Federal-only portion of the San Luis Unit includes the O`Neill Pumping Plant and Intake Canal, Coalinga Canal, Pleasant Valley Pumping Plant, and the San Luis Drain.

CVP Flood Control Value

A critical role for the CVP is providing flood protection for northern California and its Central Valley, which is essential as a food source to the nation and home to millions of people. Generally, reservoirs offer flexibility by temporarily storing large flows of water that would have been damaging if not captured, and allowing more gradual water release rates that downstream areas can more easily absorb. This process also partially lowers the reservoirs so the cycle can be repeated for coming storms.

static image:  photo - The Tracy Fish Collection Facility was constructed to protect fish natural to the area from the nearby southern Delta pumping plant.
The Tracy Fish Collection Facility was constructed to protect fish natural to the area from the nearby southern Delta pumping plant.

CVP: Closer Look at Delta Pumping Plant

The C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant at the southern end of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta lifts water into the Delta-Mendota Canal. The plant can pump 4,300 cubic feet per second, which is about 2 million gallons per minute or 8,500 acre-feet per day. The canal delivers water to CVP water service contractors and exchange contractors along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The CVP water is also conveyed with pumping units to the San Luis Reservoir for deliveries to CVP contractors through the San Luis Canal.

CVP: Closer Look at Tracy Fish Collection Facility

The Tracy Fish Collection Facility is a system of louvers, bypasses and holding tanks operated to protect and salvage fish natural to the area from the nearby C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant.

In 2010, the facility collected Delta fish species as the primary mitigation feature for the pumping plant and returned them to the Delta. Threadfin shad, striped bass, and American shad made up the bulk of the collection. There are about 50 species of fish collected at the facility, including listed species such as the Delta smelt, winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon, steelhead, and green sturgeon. Improvements to the facility in 2010 included installation of a new trash rack cleaner and construction of a new biology building.

CVP Agricultural Benefits in 2010

Irrigated acreage, crops and production:

interactive image:  photo - The hydroelectric power plant at Shasta Dam is one of many in the Central Valley Project; click for larger photo
The hydroelectric power plant at Shasta Dam is one of many in the Central Valley Project.

CVP Hydroelectric Power Production and Benefits

CVP hydroelectric generators produced about 3.6 million megawatt-hours of energy in Fiscal Year 2010, a portion of which was used for pumping water throughout the CVP. The rest was marketed to energy customers. Project use consumed about 1.2 million megawatt-hours while the remaining 2.4 million megawatt-hours were made available to the Western Area Power Administration for distribution in the western United States. The 2.4 million megawatt-hours would serve the typical annual electricity requirements of about 200,000 households.

Other California Projects


The Orland Project, in the Sacramento Valley about 100 miles north of Sacramento, is comprised of two main dams, East Park and Stony Gorge, in a small system that captures runoff from the eastern Coast Range. The project has an average annual runoff of 410,000 acre-feet that irrigates about 20,000 acres of farmland.

static image:  photo - Monticello Dam in the Solano Project is noted for its “glory hole,” a type of spillway with an intake shaped like an inverted bell.
Monticello Dam in the Solano Project is noted for its “glory hole,” a type of spillway with an intake shaped like an inverted bell.
static image:  photo - Lauro Dam is one of the facilities in the Cachuma Project.
Lauro Dam is one of the facilities in the Cachuma Project.


The Solano Project provides irrigation water to 96,000 acres of farmland and the San Francisco Bay Area cities of Vallejo, Vacaville, Fairfield, Benicia and Suisun. The project’s water comes from rain-fed rivers on the eastern Coast Range in Napa and Lake counties that flow into Lake Berryessa, with a storage capacity of more than 1.5 million acre-feet.


Along California’s south coast, the Cachuma Project captures seasonal floodwaters that otherwise would flow into the sea. The project contains the highly variable Santa Ynez River, storing floodwaters for 38,000 acres of farmlands and historically water-deficient communities, including well-known Santa Barbara.

Santa Maria

The Santa Maria Project irrigates 35,000 acres of cropland 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles. A basin of more than 1,100 square miles drains into the Cuyama River, the main source of water for the project’s Twitchell Dam and Reservoir.

static image:  photo - Casitas Dam is part of the Ventura Project
Casitas Dam is part of the Ventura River Project.

Ventura River

The Casitas Reservoir and other features of the Ventura River Project, on the Pacific Coast about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, provide irrigation to about 15,000 acres of farmland and supplies water to about 40,000 municipal and industrial users in the Casitas Municipal Water District.

Nevada Projects


static image:  photo - Lake Tahoe Dam is part of the Newlands Project.
Lake Tahoe Dam is part of the Newlands Project.

The Newlands Project, begun in 1903, was one of the first Bureau of Reclamation projects. Drainage basins of more than 3,000 square miles in the eastern Sierra Nevada fill several reservoirs that supply snowmelt runoff for a total of 191,000 acre-feet of delivery for more than 55,000 acres of cropland in the Lahontan Valley.


The Washoe Project encompasses an area in Nevada that includes the cities of Reno and Sparks. The project also extends over a small portion of California that includes the cities of Truckee, Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe. The project uses the melting snow from the Truckee and lower Carson river basins on the Sierra Nevada’s eastern slope to benefit fish and wildlife. It also provides flood protection and recreation on reservoirs.


The Truckee Storage Project was constructed to better regulate the Truckee River. It also provides irrigation water to about 4,000 acres in the Truckee Meadows area surrounding Reno and Sparks, as well as municipal and industrial supplies for the Reno and Sparks areas. The project’s major feature, Boca Dam and Reservoir, is about 25 miles southwest of Reno on the Little Truckee River.


The Humboldt Project is located in northwestern Nevada on the Humboldt River. Rye Patch Dam and Reservoir is on the Humboldt River about 22 miles upstream from Lovelock in Pershing County. The dam stores river flows for diversion to irrigated lands.

Oregon Projects


The Klamath Project was developed to supply irrigation water to the Klamath Basin, in southern Oregon and northern California. Two main sources supply water for the project: the Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River; and Clear Lake Reservoir, Gerber Reservoir, and Lost River, which are located in a closed basin. The total drainage area, including the Lost River and the Klamath River watershed above Keno, Oregon, is about 5,700 square miles. The Klamath Project, located on the Pacific Flyway, supports the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges Complex.

Recreation in the Mid-Pacific Region

More than 60 reservoirs and wildlife refuges in the Region offer recreation opportunities such as boating, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, biking, rock climbing, sightseeing and viewing wildlife. Their locations range from areas near cities to rugged, remote sites. Some are managed by the Region; others by federal, state, and local government partners, including the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
Major sites include Lake Berryessa, near the Napa Valley; Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, in the City of Folsom near Sacramento; Lake Shasta, in northern California near Redding; New Melones Lake, east of Stockton and Modesto in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
More information at: www.recreation.gov.

April 1, 2011