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Posted on: March 2, 2021

Cordua Irrigation District joins historic Lower Yuba River Accord

A flooded rice field with the Yuba County foothills in the background.

Yuba Water Agency’s board of directors today approved an agreement that adds the Cordua Irrigation District to the historic Lower Yuba River Accord, a model water management agreement that supports endangered salmon and steelhead, ensures water supplies for cities and farms and reduces conflict over water use.

“This new agreement significantly enhances how we manage the region's surface and groundwater resources by bringing everyone together around the same common rules,” said Scott Matyac, Yuba Water’s water resources manager who worked closely with Cordua to develop the agreement. “We deeply appreciate the willingness of the district’s past and current board members to work together on this important effort.”

“Cordua appreciates the outreach and the effort by Yuba Water to include us in their effort to greatly improve conditions on the lower Yuba River for fish, wildlife and the people of Yuba County,” said Charley Mathews Jr., Cordua’s chairman of the board. “This greatly streamlines the activities of the Accord and enhances the reliability of water for agriculture and the environment in Yuba County.”

Cordua’s board of directors approved the agreement last month.

Implemented in 2008, the Yuba Accord resolved decades of controversy and litigation over instream flow requirements in the lower Yuba River. Instream flow is the rate of water flow required for fish, recreation and water use at different times of the year at specific locations.

The Yuba Accord includes three separate but related agreements: a fisheries agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and certain non-governmental organizations, a water purchase agreement with the California Department of Water Resources and conjunctive use agreements with local water and irrigation districts.

Each year, Yuba Water supplies about 260,000 acre-feet of water to local water districts, called member units, which convey water supplies to Yuba County farmers and ranchers. Yuba Water has long sought to have all eight member units participate in the Yuba Accord to enhance coordination and management of surface and groundwater resources.

The conjunctive use agreements enable Yuba Water’s member units and their landowners and well owners to participate in the Yuba Accord’s Groundwater Substitution Water Transfer Program. Under this program, the member units pump groundwater as a substitute supply for the agency’s surface water deliveries in dry years. This allows Yuba River water to stay in the river during dry years, benefitting fish and wildlife species and water users in areas of need throughout California.

Yuba Water’s additional member units include Brophy Water District, Browns Valley Irrigation District, Dry Creek Mutual Water Company, Hallwood Irrigation Company, Ramirez Water District, South Yuba Water District and Wheatland Water District.

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