Colorado River & California Water

Contact: Reclamation Public Affairs

In approximately 100 years of record, the period of 2000 to 2017 represents the lowest 18 years for Colorado River Basin runoff. Over this time, elevations in the major reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin (system storage) have declined from nearly full to approximately half of capacity. Water year 2018 is starting out very dry, and entities that rely on the Colorado River are concerned with the long- term ability to meet Compact requirements.

Even in states such as California, where the winter of 2017 brought above average precipitation and drought relief to many areas of the state, groundwater must be replenished and the hydrologic system as a whole will need time to recover. As is the case in the Colorado River Basin, water year 2018 in California is beginning this winter season below average within the Central Valley and surrounding areas. However, Central Valley Project reservoirs are well above their historical averages for this time of year, and in some cases, are as full as possible given required flood control reserve space. The FY 2019 budget continues efforts in both areas while striving to find a long-term, comprehensive solutions to achieve the goals of providing reliable water supplies for Colorado River users and California.

Lower Colorado River Operations Program - $31.2M

The budget includes $31.2 million for the Lower Colorado River Operations Program (LCROP) to fulfill the role of the Secretary of the Interior as Water Master for the lower Colorado River and implementation of the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (LCR MSCP). Of this amount, $5.2 million is for efforts associated with the development of the Annual Operating Plan for Colorado River reservoirs, management and oversight of the Long-Range Operating Criteria for Colorado River Reservoirs, and the Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lakes Mead and Powell, including opportunities to address the water imbalance challenges and the potential solutions within the Basin. Also, $2.4 million is for activities related to compliance and monitoring of the Bi-National Treaty agreement (and successor agreements) with Mexico. Minute 323, the current agreement, was developed and facilitated by the U.S. and Mexican Sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission. Also included is $2.8 million for various activities and actions to help mitigate impacts of the ongoing drought in the Colorado River Basin through drought contingency plan agreements. The request also includes $16.9 million to continue development and implementation of the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (MSCP). This unique partnership is designed to provide 50 years of Endangered Species Act coverage and conserves 26 species along the lower Colorado River from Lake Mead to Mexico, including the endangered razorback sucker, bonytail chub, southwestern willow flycatcher, and Yuma clapper rail. This program is cost shared 50/50 with the non-Federal partners.

Colorado River Salinity Control - $28.6M

The budget includes $28.6 million for Colorado River Basin salinity control efforts through both the Title I and Title II programs within Reclamation's Water and Related Resources account. The Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Project (CRBSCP), Title I - $15.5 million total - includes $1.9 million for the 242 Wellfield Expansion Project, which will provide an additional 25,000 acre feet of high quality water to Mexico (in compliance with the 1944 Water Treaty), as well as $13.6 million for operations and maintenance for activities concerning water quality and delivery throughout the Colorado River. The CRBSCP, Title II program includes $6.0 million to lower salt concentrations in the Upper Colorado River Basin, as well as $2.8 million and $4.3 million in the Grand Valley Unit and Paradox Valley Unit, respectively, for salinity control within those project areas. Central Valley Project $147.5M

The FY 2019 budget request will fund operations, management, and improvements within the Central Valley Project (CVP) in California. A little under half of the amount provides for operations, maintenance and rehabilitation of project facilities, including $17.4 million for the Replacements, Additions, and Extraordinary Maintenance program, for modernization, upgrade, and refurbishment of facilities throughout the Central Valley. The request also includes $35.0 million for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program (SJRRP) funded within the CVP, Friant Division. Funding is to continue implementation of the San Joaquin River Settlement (Settlement) in NRDC, et al., v. Rodgers, et al. Reclamation's efforts to implement the Settlement are conducted in close coordination with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Settlement and San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act resolved long-standing disputes related to water deliveries and fisheries concerns on the San Joaquin River.

Discretionary funding in FY 2019 will be used for construction of the Mendota Pool Bypass and Reach 2B Channel Improvements Project. The Mendota Pool Bypass component of this project implements one of the highest priority projects identified in the Settlement and includes the creation of a bypass channel around Mendota Pool to prevent fish entrainment in the water diversion facilities in the pool. The bypass channel will be designed and constructed in a way that allows for the Secretary of the Interior to make deliveries of San Joaquin River water to the Mendota Pool, when necessary.

Efforts will continue planning, engineering, environmental compliance, fishery management, water operations, and public involvement activities related to the restoration and water management goals in the Settlement. Significant activities planned include the continued release of Restoration Flows from Friant Dam as hydrologic conditions allow and implementation of associated biological and physical monitoring and reporting program. As part of this effort, Reclamation plans to continue implementation of a comprehensive groundwater seepage management and monitoring program, including the implementation of seepage management actions and projects to reduce or avoid high groundwater elevations under adjacent agricultural lands that may affect agricultural productivity as a result of release of long-term flows (termed Restoration Flows) from Friant Dam.

Central Valley Project Restoration Fund - $62.0M

The Central Valley Project Restoration Fund was authorized in the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act, Title XXXIV of P.L. 102-575. This Fund provides funding from project beneficiaries for habitat restoration, improvement and acquisition, and other fish and wildlife restoration activities in the Central Valley Project (CVP) area of California. Revenues are derived from payments by project beneficiaries and from donations.

Funding will be used for protection, restoration, and management of aquatic and riparian habitats throughout the Central Valley, water supplies for wildlife refuges, and water acquisition and other activities to benefit anadromous fish. Annual work plans coordinated by Fish and Wildlife Service and Reclamation, in conjunction with Central Valley water users, hydropower representatives, and other interested groups, continue to help ensure efficient and effective implementation of the Act.

California Bay-Delta Restoration - $35.0M

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta) system is critical to California's economy because the two rivers that flow into the Bay-Delta provide potable water for two-thirds of California's homes and businesses and irrigate more than 3 million acres of farmland on which 45 percent of the nation's fruits and vegetables are grown, part of a $28.0 billion agricultural industry. The Delta is also an important ecosystem, serving as a migratory corridor for salmon species and almost half of the waterfowl and shorebirds along the Pacific flyway The Federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project play a central, coordinated role in the water management of the Bay-Delta system and throughout California.

The CALFED Bay-Delta Program was established in May 1995 to develop a comprehensive long-term plan to address the complex and interrelated problems in the Delta region, tributary watersheds, and delivery areas. The Program's focus is on conserving and restoring the health of the ecosystem and improving water management. The FY 2018 budget requests funding actions that support the Program. The authorization of funding for specific activities in the CALFED Bay-Delta authorization Act expires at the end of FY 2019.

Updated: Feb. 13, 2018