State Water Project

State Water Project

A serpentine stretch of the East Branch California Aqueduct in Palmdale, Calif. within Los Angeles County at mile post 327.50. Photo taken February 7, 2014. Florence Low / The California Department of Water Resources

The State Water Project provides Mojave Water Agency’s source of supplemental water supply–that is, supply used to supplement natural water flows into the ground within the service area.  MWA owns 89,800 acre-feet of “Table A” water rights on the SWP, which it exercises as needed to meet demands within the MWA service area.  A handful of water delivery systems bring water from the SWP to groundwater recharge locations throughout MWA.

Water delivered by the project originates primarily in the Sierra Mountains in Northern California and is pumped into the project from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta near Stockton.  Some of the water is delivered to water agencies in the Bay Area and along California’s central coast, but a majority of the water is delivered to be stored in the San Luis Reservoir. From there, water travels through the California aqueduct down the Central Valley, over the Tehachapi and San Gabriel Mountain ranges, passing through the western Mojave Desert and into Southern California.

The SWP is a water storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, pumping plants, and power plants owned and operated by the State of California (Map of SWP Facilities).  Rights to water produced by the project are owned by 29 water agencies (“state water contractors”) throughout the State.

An aerial view of the Harvey O. Banks Delta Pumping Plant, the first major plant designed and constructed within the California State Water Project. The facility located in Alameda County has a number of pumps that lifts water into the California Aqueduct. It was renamed from the Delta Pumping Plant to the Harvey O. Banks Delta Pumping Plant in June 1981, to honor the first Director of the California Department of Water Resources. California Department of Water Resources

Seventy percent of the water supply goes to urban water users and thirty percent to agricultural water users, with a majority of the water going to the Central Valley and Southern California. The project supplies about two-thirds of California’s population, and is the largest state-built water project in the nation.  Capital costs, as well as operation and maintenance of the SWP is paid for by state water contractors.

On average, the project delivers about 2.4 million acre-feet per year, enough water to meet the water needs of about 27 million people.
MWA’s share of the SWP supplies is only about 2 percent of the total.

For more information on the State Water Project, visit the California Department of Water Resources’ SWP Website.