A photo of an electric groundwater pump in front of dry rice fields with the Sutter Butte Mountain RYuba Water Agency was established in 1959 to reduce flood risk and provide a sustainable water supply for the people of Yuba County. Yuba County has historically endured devastating floods, due in part to Gold Rush-era hydraulic mining practices that washed millions of cubic yards of debris into the Yuba River, raising the riverbed and increasing the flood risk.

As gold mining gave way to farming and ranching, water users south of the Yuba River overdrafted the aquifer, causing dramatic declines in groundwater levels. To resolve these problems, Yuba Water Agency proposed the Yuba River Development Project, a multipurpose flood control, water and power project that was approved in 1961. In 1966, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a license for the project, and Yuba Water Agency completed construction in 1970.

The construction of New Bullards Bar Dam and Reservoir in 1970 was an essential step in the long-term and continuing effort to address this risk. This state-of-the-art facility is managed to contain a minimum of 170,000 acre-feet of flood flows at any time.

Major Yuba Water Agency Milestones:

  • 1959: Yuba County Water Agency Act is signed, creating was is known today as the Yuba Water Agency
  • 1961: Proposed Yuba River Development Project is approved for construction
  • 1966: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues license for Yuba River Development Project
  • 1970: Yuba River Development Project construction is completed 
  • 1986: The State of California, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Yuba Water initiate Yuba River Basin Project discussions after flooding from the Feather and Yuba rivers devastate Linda and Olivehurst, claiming two lives and resulting in more than $464 million in damages
  • 1988: Yuba Water formally requests a Corps reconnaissance study and assumes role as local cost-share partner for a feasibility study, a critical step to secure formal federal backing of the project
  • 1997: Major flooding in Arboga (now Plumas Lake) and Linda claims three lives and causes more than $300 million in damage
  • 1998: Corps approves nearly $28 million in project funding to bring 200-year levels of protection to Yuba County
  • 1999: Congress formally authorizes the Yuba River Basin Project
  • 2000: California voters pass the Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Act of 2000 (Proposition 13) creating the Yuba Feather Flood Protection Program and providing nearly $90 million for levee improvements in RD 784
  • 2004: Yuba County and RD 784 form TRLIA joint powers authority to finance and construct levee improvements in south Yuba County
  • 2005: Bear River setback levee is completed, improving two miles of levee and adding 500 acres of floodplain habitat along the Bear River
  • 2006: California voters approve the Disaster Preparedness and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2006 (Proposition 1E) providing $4.5 billion in levee improvements and flood risk reduction measures, $200 million of which is partially allocated to Yuba County
  • 2007: Congress reauthorizes the Yuba River Basin Project, increasing allocations from $27 million to $107.7 million
  • 2010: Award-winning Feather River Setback Levee is completed, building six miles of new levee and restoring 1,500 acres of floodplain habitat, substantially reducing flood risk for Arboga, Linda, Olivehurst and Plumas Lake at a cost of $160 million
  • 2012: Yuba Goldfields 100-year flood protection completed