Water agency operations and the acquisition of water in the Sacramento Valley provide benefits to the Bay-Delta and numerous fish species in the Central Valley. Recent acquisitions have been targeted primarily for the benefit of fisheries in the Bay-Delta watershed, including salmon and steelhead.
In 2001, 80,000 acre-feet (af) of water was acquired in the Sacramento Valley for the Environmental Water Account (EWA). Yuba County Water Agency delivered 135,000 af of water for the EWA in 2002 and made an additional 180,000 af available for the program in 2003. The CALFED Record of Decision looks for 35,000 af of water from North of the Bay-Delta. This program is designed to assure that sufficient water is available to help restore and recover fish while providing increased water supply reliability to water users throughout the state. Most importantly, the “CALFED agencies have crafted the EWA so that it has no effect on the water rights of other water right holders in the [Sacramento Valley] watershed.” (CALFED ROD at 54.) For long-term supplies, the CALFED ROD specifically calls for Sites reservoir, if it is completed, to serve as a long-term asset for the EWA.
Additionally, water from the Sacramento Valley has been utilized to meet the numerous commitments in the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA), including the 800,000 af dedicated to fish and wildlife purposes and the Anadromous Fish Restoration Program (AFRP). Northern California water users are also committed to the Environmental Water Program (EWP) and acquisitions called for in the CALFED ROD to “improve salmon spawning and juvenile survival in upstream tributaries.” Many water use efficiency measures in Northern California modify flows to provide environmental and water quality benefits.