Ensuring a sustainable water supply for Yuba County
Providing reliable surface water to local farms and ranches is one of the primary reasons Yuba Water Agency exists. Each year, Yuba Water supplies about 260,000 acre-feet of water to eight local water districts, known as member units, which convey water to Yuba County farmers and ranchers. Yuba Water is a wholesale water supplier; it does not provide residential water service.
In addition to supporting local agriculture, our water benefits fish and wildlife, protects groundwater aquifers, provides recreation opportunities and generates clean, reliable hydroelectric power for California.
Groundwater aquifer recovery
Yuba Water’s surface water deliveries and conjunctive use practices with its local member units have played a key role in recharging Yuba County’s groundwater aquifers. Conjunctive use is a holistic approach to water management that includes using groundwater to reduce surface water demand when there is limited supply and recharging groundwater when there is more surface water available.
The benefit of Yuba Water’s conjunctive use practices is especially evident in the south county, where groundwater levels in some areas have recovered by about 100 feet and reached near-historic levels. The vast majority of Yuba County residents – more than 80 percent – depend on groundwater as their sole source of supply.
Supporting California's water needs
Through the agreements of the Lower Yuba River Accord, Yuba Water releases water for the benefit of fish, and can then voluntarily transfer that water to cities and farms all over California. These supplies help meet some of California’s water needs, especially during drought. And the revenue from these transfers helps Yuba Water strengthen levees, improve salmon and steelhead habitat in the Yuba River and meet other needs in Yuba County.
Benefitting fish and wildlife
Since its formation, Yuba Water has worked with local, state and federal agencies, environmental groups and tribes to protect fisheries in the lower Yuba River. Yuba Water owns and operates the Yuba River Development Project, which ensures approximately 232,000 to 574,000 acre-feet of annual instream flows, depending on the type of water year, to support lower Yuba River fisheries. This water is taken from the bottom of New Bullards Bar Reservoir – the coldest part of the reservoir – and used to generate carbon-free energy before being released to the lower Yuba River for cold-water fish habitat. The benefits of these cold-water releases are especially critical during dry years.
Water supplies from Yuba Water also benefit wildlife. Following the rice harvest each season, Yuba Water provides water that farmers use to flood their fields to decompose rice straw. This process creates valuable seasonal habitat for hundreds of species of waterfowl and shorebirds, including those migrating along the Pacific Flyway, and other fish and wildlife.