Does San Juan Water District have adequate water supplies even in drought conditions?
San Juan Water District Wholesale has the oldest water rights on the north fork of the American River, dating back to 1853. These are called senior water rights under California water rights law. San Juan's water is the last to be diverted, or used; water agencies with junior water rights are required to have theirs cut back before San Juan's in times of drought.
San Juan Wholesale also has a supply contract with Placer County Water Agency. In 2015, San Juan Water District and Sacramento Suburban Water District completed a pipeline project that enables the transfer of groundwater from Sacramento Suburban to San Juan Water District and the transfer of surface water from San Juan Water District to Sacramento Suburban. Even in extreme drought conditions with severe water supply limitations, San Juan can supply its customers with ample water supply.
What are some past actions San Juan Wholesale and our region made to plan for drought conditions?
San Juan Retail completed construction on two key water supply projects: The Barton Road Intertie connecting Placer County Water Agency to San Juan Water District's distribution system and the Antelope Booster Pump-Back project that enables the transfer of groundwater from Sacramento Suburban to San Juan. These two projects can provide up to 16 million gallons of additional water supply per day to increase reliability for San Juan Retail customers. The projects were completed in partnership with other local water agencies. Grant funds were used to help offset the costs to the agencies.
If we don’t use our water, is it stored for use next year?
No. Any water not used by our customers cannot be stored in Folsom Lake under San Juan's settlement contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. That water becomes the property of Reclamation if San Juan is unable to use it. Reclamation can use this water without compensation to San Juan to meet environmental needs in the Delta and on the Sacramento River.
If we cannot use the water supplies, can we benefit by selling them to someone else?
Legally, yes. This is called a water transfer. San Juan has been working with state and federal agencies to establish a process that would allow a transfer of water that was previously used by San Juan customers, but is not currently being used. San Juan is working with the California Department of Water Resources to define the process to do so. San Juan has also conducted transfers of water freed up by substituting groundwater supplies from Fair Oaks and Citrus Heights Water Districts.