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Where CA Water Comes From

Where Does California’s Water Come From?

California’s economy and culture have always been shaped by the abundance or scarcity of water. As people flocked to the mild climate and agricultural richness of southern California in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was quickly apparent that the region’s water supply wouldn’t support the swelling population. Several water projects were built to import the precious resource to Southern California and the Central Valley.

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California State Water Project

Started in the early 1960s, the California State Water Project is a water storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, power plants and pumping plants extending more than 700 miles. It was designed to provide many benefits:

  • Supplies water to more than 27 million people in California and irrigates about 750,000 acres of farmland, mainly in the San Joaquin Valley
  • Produces hydroelectric power
  • Provides fish and wildlife habitat
  • Sustains the environmental health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
  • Provides recreational opportunities

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State Water Supply Contracts

The Department of Water Resources administers long-term water supply contracts to 29 local water agencies for water service from the State Water Project (SWP). These water supply contracts are central to the SWP’s construction and operation. In return for state financing, construction, operation and maintenance of Project facilities, the agencies contractually agree to repay all associated SWP capital and operating costs.

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Water Curriculum

Water 101

The California Department of Water Resources offers a wealth of educational content, including worksheets, activity books, posters, videos and curriculum guides to classroom teachers, homeschoolers and nonformal educators. Content is available in hard copy and electronically.

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