Water Sources and Infrastructure
California’s Mediterranean climate is conducive to producing high-yielding, high-quality almond crops year-in and year-out. While these ideal growing conditions form the backdrop for the state’s almond-growing productivity, it is our ability to store and distribute water for irrigation during the dry growing season that is the key to this success.
With rain and snow falling almost exclusively in the winter and early spring and mostly in the northern part of the state, Californians rely on an intricate system of dams that create reservoirs for storage, and canals to distribute stored water as needed to irrigate crops, as well as support health and human services, industry, recreation and environmental concerns. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains acts as an additional water storage device, recharging rivers, reservoirs and groundwater supplies as it slowly melts during the dry months. Underground aquifers, sustained by that same Sierra snowpack, provide an additional source of water that is tapped by wells for irrigation and other uses.
Several issues affect the state’s water supplies:
- Sustained population growth throughout California
- Lower-than-average rainfall and a thin snowpack in recent years that have reduced the amount of water in storage, both aboveground and underground
- An aging and inadequate storage and delivery system that cannot meet the state’s multiuse water needs
- The failing of the infrastructure of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, the “crossroads” of the state’s water delivery system
- Legal and environmental issues, such as the protection of endangered species, that require Delta pumps to be shut down during critical periods of water delivery.
- California Water backgrounder
- California Department of Water Resources: Sustainable Groundwater Management
- Calfornia Almonds Outlook: Water: Policy and Politics (February 2015)
- Association of California Water Agencies
- California Farm Water Coalition
- Water Education Foundation
- Public Policy Institute of California