Water transfers and exchanges are an integral part of CVP water operations, particularly in drought years, as long as transfers can occur consistent with state and federal laws governing water transfers. In 2014, Reclamation facilitated the transfer of over 257,000 acre-feet of water. Of the 257,000 acre-feet, 213,220 acre-feet was considered “new water” to the system, meaning specific actions (such as reservoir reoperation, crop idling/shifting, groundwater substitution, or Yuba Accord purchases) were taken to make the water available. The remaining quantity was considered an in-basin transfer or a reallocation of contract supply.
• §3405(a) of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992 (CVPIA) authorizes the transfer of all or a portion of a CVP contractors contracted water supply to any other California water user or water agency, State or Federal agency, Indian Tribe, or private non-profit organization for project purposes or any purpose recognized as beneficial under State law.
• CVP water transfers are subject to the conditions prescribed in §3405(a), 1993 Interim Guidelines for Implementation of Water Transfers, and the Department of the Interior Final CVPIA Administrative Proposal on Water Transfers (1998).
• Water transfer provisions of CVPIA do not apply to permanent contract assignments under which a CVP contractor relinquishes their contractual right to Project water; water banking and recharge actions outside of the contractors boundaries; water for water exchanges; forbearance actions whereby CVP contractors are paid not to exercise their right to water; and transfers of base supply water under settlement contracts which are carried out in accordance with State law.
• Since 1992, the Region and the State of California Department of Water Resources, owners and operators of the two largest water projects in California, have collaborated to develop criteria to facilitate water transfers.
• The Region facilitates both short and long-term transfers of CVP water. Long-term transfer approvals are accomplished through programmatic environmental documentation, with annual approvals of physical water transfers.