Water Basics

Water in California is a complex topic. Managing water resources sustainably requires an integrated approach, as water flows across many lines and impacts every Californian. Learn the water basics for better understanding of our programs and the issues related to our work.


California is an agricultural leader. Proper irrigation is key to its success, while droughts and flooding can propose challenges.

The California Water System

The Golden State’s economy, agricultural production, and population have grown to number one in the nation, largely in pace with the strategic development of its water resources and systems.

Climate Change

Climate change can have a profound impact on California’s water resources, as evidenced by changes in snowpack, sea level, and river flows.

Conservation Tips

The next drought could be around the corner – we encourage Californians to embrace water conservation in their daily routines.

The Delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the heart of California’s water system, supplying fresh water to 2/3 of the state’s population and millions of acres of farmland.


Drought is a reoccurring feature of California’s climate. The longer the drought, the bigger the impact, as carry-over supplies in reservoirs are depleted and water levels in groundwater basins decline.


Water plays a vital role in California's unique geography and climate which foster a diverse habitat and ecosystem of plants, animals, fish, birds, and aquatic life.


California is prone to periodic floods, which is why we work with local and federal agencies to build and maintain levees and bypasses. All Californians should know their flood risk and be prepared.


A key part of California’s water supply, groundwater is stored below the earth’s surface in aquifers and serves as a critical buffer against the impacts of drought and climate change.


Find definitions of key terms and concepts related to our work.