Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a water transfer?
A water transfer is a voluntary sale of water proposed and initiated by willing sellers who have legal rights to a supply of water to an interested buyer. The seller must take specific actions within his service area to make water available to the buyer that would not be available in the watercourse absent the transfer, "new water". Water transfers can be an effective management tool to provide flexibility in the allocation and use of water during dry periods.
What is the Department of Water Resources (DWR) role in water transfers?
DWR is one of several public agencies involved in the approval and management of proposed water transfers in California. DWR becomes involved when the proposal involves the use of State Water Project (SWP) or Central Valley Project (CVP) water conveyance facilities, SWP or CVP water, or a SWP or CVP contractor. DWR reviews water transfer proposals to confirm the amount of transferable water specified by the sellers in order to ensure that the transfer will not cause injury to other legal users of water. If SWP facilities are needed to convey transfer water to the buyers, DWR will also develop a conveyance agreement.
Many inter- and intra-regional water transfers occur every year in California which do not necessarily require involvement of DWR or other state agencies.
The State Water Resources Control Board is another State agency that reviews and approves water transfers. To learn more about their transfer program, please visit: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/water_transfers/.
For more information regarding the Central Valley Project Water Transfer Program, please visit: http://www.usbr.gov/mp/watertransfer/.
What is DWR looking for in a water transfer proposal?
At a minimum, water transfers -should meet the technical criteria established in the Draft Technical Information for Preparing Water Transfer Proposals (Water Transfer White Paper). This document is available at: http://www.water.ca.gov/watertransfers/.
What do the Governor's Executive Orders of January 17, 2014, April 25, 2014, and December 22, 2014 on the drought do for water transfers in 2015?
The Governor's Drought Proclamation directs DWR and the State Water Resources Control Board to expedite the processing of water transfers. The Proclamation suspends the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for certain actions of DWR and the State Water Resources Control Board to expedite transfers. However, it does not suspend CEQA compliance for local agencies.
What has DWR done to help facilitate and expedite water transfers in 2015 that will require use of SWP facilities?
DWR has improved its water transfers administrative processes for 2015 by continuing to streamline its process for transfer proposal reviews by updating the Water Transfer White Paper, conducting additional buyer/seller outreach, improving templates for conveyance agreements, and improving interagency coordination.
How many transfer proposals did DWR approve in 2014 and how much additional water was made available by these transfers?
DWR approved 12 short-term transfer proposals for 2014. The total potential volume of water that could be made available in 2014 from these transfers along with three other long-term transfers was approximately 306 TAF before carriage water losses. The SWP started exporting water transfer supplies on July 1 and completed moving transfer related supplies by the end of September.
Will DWR establish a Drought Water Bank in 2015?
Since 2009, transfers conveyed through SWP and CVP have been individual transfers negotiated between willing sellers and buyers. This process has been effective at addressing the needs of both buyers and sellers. DWR currently has no plans to establish a Drought Water Bank in 2015.
What are the constraints on water transfers using the State Water Project (SWP) or Central Valley Project (CVP) Delta facilities?
Water transfers using SWP or CVP Delta export facilities can only occur if there is available conveyance capacity after meeting all operational and regulatory requirements. Transfer water can only be conveyed through the SWP and CVP export facilities during July through September consistent with the Biological Opinions for CVP and SWP operations issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the United State Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Any buyer or seller wanting to move water outside the existing transfer window must first consult with NMFS and USFWS.
For additional information regarding the NMFS biological opinion, please visit: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/central_valley/water_operations/ocap.html
For additional information regarding the USFWS biological opinion, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/sfbaydelta/cvp-swp/cvp-swp.cfm
Please visit DWRs transfers website for additional information regarding water transfers: