The State Water Project (SWP) is one of the two primary imported water sources for residents of southern California. Originating in the far northern part of the state near Lake Oroville, the SWP consists of 22 dams and reservoirs and a water conveyance channel twice as long as the Colorado River Aqueduct. The California Aqueduct, a major piece of the SWP, begins in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta and stretches nearly 450 miles to deliver water to Central Valley farmers and southern California cities.
The Bay Delta has experienced severe water supply reliability problems in recent years due to several environmental court rulings that all serve to restrict the amount of water that can be pumped out of the Delta and transported through the SWP to other areas of the state. The Delta Smelt, a tiny fish native to the Bay Delta region, is one of the Delta’s protected species of fish. In order to protect the Delta Smelt, pumping activities in the Delta are curbed at different times of the year.
From 2008-2010, the average final allocation for the State Water Project was less than 42 percent.