Course: Science Subtest I
Lesson: Earth's Resources
Topic: California's Fresh Water      Page 34 of 39  

The State Water Plan and the California Aqueduct

The State Water Project (SWP) — the largest state-built water project in the nation — is a complex array of dams, power plants, canals, and pumping stations. It provides millions of acre-feet of water per year from the Sacramento Delta to communities north and south of the Bay Area and in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. About half the water is pumped south to San Joaquin Valley farms and over the Tehachapi Mountains to urban areas of Southern California. (Such pumping of water around the desert southwest leads to jokes about water flowing uphill towards money!)

In the middle of the SWP's chain of canals, reservoirs, and pumps are facilities that are shared with the federal Central Valley Project. The California Department of Water Resources, which operates the SWP, works closely with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central Valley Project, to run the combined systems. (The SWP was built most intensively between 1961 and 1974.)


Lake Palmdale, with the California Acqueduct in the foreground. Source: Wikipedia