The California we know today, with a population of nearly 40 million people and agricultural land covering millions of acres, would not be possible without major investments in infrastructure to transport water and power throughout the state and provide flood protection. We also invest in efforts that support and strengthen nature's infrastructure, which we rely upon for our water supply and other ecosystem benefits.
California receives most of its precipitation in the watersheds of the northern Sierra Nevada mountains. The State Water Project (SWP) was developed in the 1960's to collect and distribute some of that water throughout the rest of the state.
The manmade infrastructure of the SWP relies upon the natural engineering of California's watersheds. The SWP's water supply is sourced in the Feather River watershed which drains into Lake Oroville, where rain and snowmelt are stored behind Oroville Dam to provide water supply, flood management, and recreation benefits. DWR controls releases of water from Lake Oroville in coordination with operations at the federally-managed Lake Shasta and other reservoirs. That water enters the Sacramento River system, providing benefits to the river and Bay-Delta ecosystems. In the south Delta, water is diverted into the California Aqueduct to meet water supply needs of agricultural and urban areas in central and southern California.
The SWP relies on the natural features and channels of the Sacramento River watershed to distribute and transport water through the Central Valley to the Delta. The system also utilizes engineered levees and flood bypasses to help protect urban and agricultural areas from severe floods that threaten lives and can cost millions of dollars in damage.
In support of California's natural water supply infrastructure, DWR constructs, maintains, and evaluates a number of facilities, including:
- 34 storage facilities
- 21 dams
- 705 miles of canals and aqueducts
- 23 pumping plants
- The single largest water lift in world (Edmonston Pumping Plant pumps water nearly 2,000 feet over the Tehachapi Mountains and into Southern California)
- 8 powerplant facilities that produce 1,381 MW* of power, making us one of the largest power producers in California (*in a median water year)
- Approximately 1,600 miles of levees
- 3 main bypass systems for flood control and protection
- 26 non-leveed channels
- 66 flood system structures, including the 5 main weirs and 3 overflow structures
- 3 visitors centers that provide water education to Californians and visitors to California (Lake Oroville, Romero Overlook at San Luis Reservoir, and Vista Del Lago at Pyramid Lake)
- 5 field division offices (Delta in Byron, Oroville in Oroville, San Luis in Gustine, San Joaquin in Bakersfield, Southern in Pearblossom)
- 4 regional offices (Northern in Red Bluff, South Central in Fresno, North Central in West Sacramento, Southern in Glendale)