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California Water Plan 2013: Mountain Counties Regional Report

California Department of Water Resources (DWR) | October 30th, 2014

As the State works to solve the water crisis in California, the potential for redirected impacts in the Mountain Counties Area is acute. It is critical that the State recognize the significance and importance of the Sierra Nevada mountain range to the local communities, the environment, the Delta, and all of California, now and for future generations.

Water resource managers are working with elected officials, governmental agencies, businesses, farmers and conservationists on innovative programs for watershed management, water use efficiency, conservation, reuse, and recycling. Water managers and others in the region are actively balancing the water supplies that support both a vibrant economy and a healthy environment. They are also continually improving the management of surface and groundwater sources to sustain this important balance for this region and California.

Statewide Significance

Water is the number one resource exported from the Sierra Nevada, and the 16-county Mountain Counties Area is the primary source for most of that exported water. The Mountain Counties Area is over 15,700 square miles and represents 9.9 percent of the state. More than 40 percent of California’s developed water supply originates in the Mountain Counties area serving end users throughout the state.

-The reservoirs in the region produce hydroelectricity to supply homes and businesses in the western United States. Mountain Counties has more hydroelectric generation facilities than any other region in California.

– Agriculture in this region feeds the state and the world and is an economic driver for California’s economy.

Recreation and tourism in the Sierra Nevada mountains help communities thrive economically as guests come from all over the world to hike, ski, fish, raft, and boat.

  • Water stored behind designated reservoirs in the ten major watershed areas have dedicated in-stream flow releases designed to meet the many beneficial uses for the environment, agriculture, and urban users and provides storage to reduce the magnitude of flood flows.


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