Diversions by Sacramento Settlement Contractors and CVP Permits

California Water Research submitted comments on the State Water Resources Control Board’s Water Unavailability Methodology which raised the issue that Reclamation has never fully complied with CVP permit terms that require reporting of the total amount diverted under Reclamation’s CVP water rights at the Sacramento Settlement Contractors’ points of diversion.

While Reclamation is reporting daily diversions at many Sacramento River mile locations under permit 12721, the relationship with the Settlement Contractor diversions is unclear.  The Water Board’s Decision 990 granted permits to the Central Valley Project in 1960.

Permit term 14 of Decision 990 states:

14. No direct diversion or rediversion of stored water for beneficial use under permits issued pursuant to Applications 5626, 9363, 9364, 9366, 9367 and 9368, other than through the conduits or canals hereinafter named in this paragraph, shall be made until a description of the location of each point of diversion and statement of the quantity of water to be diverted is filed with the State Water Rights Board.

(a) Bella Vista Conduit
(b) Corning Canal
(c) Tehama-Colusa Canal
(d) Chico Canal
(e) Yolo-Zamora Conduit
(f) Contra Costa Canal
(g) Delta Mendota Canal
(p. 84.)

The diversions of the Sacramento Settlement Contractors are points of rediversion of stored CVP water under the Settlement Contracts. Reclamation did file a description of the location of each of point of diversion after the Settlement Contracts were signed. However, the amount to be diverted at each location was reported as 25% of the total Settlement Contract amount. Clearly 25% is not correct in extreme dry years such as 2021.

The amount can be as high as 100% if the Settlement Contractors’ diversion under their own water rights are curtailed. An analysis by California Water Research of Sacramento River gauge data from 2014 showed that settlement contractors who had post-1914 rights appeared to be diverting under Reclamation’s CVP permits.

Reclamation’s Regional Resources Manager, Richard Woodley, stated in a 2011 letter to the Water Board that “Reclamation hopes to arrive at an internally acceptable method for determining separate historic and projected maximum storage, diversion, and beneficial use of water under each of these individual water right permits that are collectively exercised for the consolidated and coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project (CVP.)”

California Water Research recommended the following:

The Water Unavailability Methodology needs to consider diversions by the Sacramento Settlement Contractors under Reclamation’s CVP Permits… The Water Unavailability analysis should fully document assumptions about the percentage of stored water vs unstored flows that are diverted under the Settlement Contracts.

Read our full comments here:

California Water Research comments re Water Unavailability Analysis

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