Regional Transfers and Exchanges

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The ability to fully manage water for beneficial use within the Sacramento Valley is a central part of sustainable water management.

As the state’s water system was developed in reliance on water that originates in the Sacramento Valley, federal and state officials made continual promises that watershed of origin needs could always be fully utilized in the Sacramento Valley. These promises are generally known as the area of origin provisions in state law. Local water management, including intra-regional water transfers and exchanges, helps assure that these promises are fulfilled by allowing the full utilization of water resources within the watershed of origin. Neighboring water users in the Sacramento Valley regularly use intra-regional water transfers to increase system flexibility and water supply reliability in the region.

Sacramento Valley water resources managers over the past decade have been involved in a sustainability effort to allow them to use existing water supplies to meet both existing needs and projected future needs in the Sacramento Valley. If successful, water resources managers can substantially reduce the amount of additional water that would need to be committed to the area of origin. To fully accomplish this, however, Sacramento Valley water resources managers must have the flexibility to pursue surface and groundwater management within the Sacramento Valley without interference from outside the watershed. This includes neighbor-to-neighbor water transfers and exchanges, which are consistent with the area of origin principles.

Water management for use within the Sacramento Valley is necessary to ensure that California’s most precious resource can be put to reasonable and beneficial use to the maximum degree practicable, while at the same time protecting water rights, the environment and the citizens that reside within the watersheds of origin.

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