Water Project Operations

State Water Project and Central Valley Project

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) operate, maintain, and manage the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) facilities, respectively. Both projects are water storage and delivery systems composed of reservoirs, aqueducts, power plants, and pumping plants. Their main purpose is to store water and distribute it to urban and agricultural water suppliers in Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast, and Southern California.

For more information regarding the CVP/SWP operations, visit the link opens in new windowReclamation and link opens in new windowDWR websites.

Compliance with the Federal and California Endangered Species Acts

In 2020, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued DWR a California Endangered Species Act (CESA) incidental take permit (ITP) for the long-term operation of the SWP in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for the protection of Delta smelt, longfin smelt, spring-run Chinook salmon, and winter-run Chinook salmon.

For more information on the SWP ITP, visit CDFW's Water and Watershed Conservation webpage.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Biological Opinion for the Reinitiation of Consultation on Long-Term Operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Biological Opinion on Long-Term Operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project were issued on October 22, 2019. They include incidental take statements (ITS) for Delta smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon, spring-run Chinook salmon, green sturgeon, and steelhead. These biological opinions (BiOps) were formally adopted on February 19, 2020 when Reclamation signed the Record of Decision.

For more information regarding the biological opinions, visit the link opens in new windowUSFWS and link opens in new windowNMFS websites.

CDFW's Role in Water Operations

CDFW’s Water Operations Program participates in multiple work teams that make real-time water operation decisions for the SWP and CVP. CDFW provides recommendations intended to minimize adverse effects on state and federally listed fish species and to ensure compliance with CESA requirements specified in the SWP ITP conditions. The following teams are required by the SWP ITP:

Smelt Monitoring Team

The Smelt Monitoring Team (SMT) consists of representatives from CDFW, USFWS, DWR, Reclamation and State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The SMT considers survey data, salvage data, and other pertinent biotic and abiotic factors to assess the risk of entrainment to Delta smelt and longfin smelt from the operation of the SWP and CVP. Based on the risk assessment, the SMT provides advice for real-time management of operations to WOMT, consistent the USFWS BiOp and SWP ITP.

Salmon Monitoring Team

The Salmon Monitoring Team (SaMT) consists of representatives from CDFW, USFWS, NMFS, DWR, Reclamation and SWRCB. The SaMT considers the effect of hydrology, meteorology, real-time fish monitoring surveys, and other biotic and abiotic factors to assess the risk of CVP/SWP operations on listed salmonids and green sturgeon. The SaMT provides advice, based on the risk assessments, for real-time management of operations to WOMT, consistent with the NMFS BiOp and SWP ITP.

Water Operations Management Team

The Water Operations Management Team (WOMT) is comprised of manager-level representatives from CDFW, USFWS, NMFS, DWR, Reclamation and SWRCB. The SMT and SaMT provide weekly updates, operations advice, and risk analyses to the WOMT. Each week the WOMT reviews and evaluates these risk assessments and operational advice, discusses potential changes to SWP and CVP operations, and makes final determinations for covered species minimization needs and water operations.

For more information, contact Ken Kundargi at Kenneth.Kundargi@wildlife.ca.gov or (916) 508-7788. 

Delta cross channel
Photo by Department of Water Resources