Yuba Water Agency was established in 1959 to reduce flood risk and provide a sustainable water supply to 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 over-drafted 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 supply and hydropower generation project, which 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.