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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed Drought & Curtailments 2021-2023

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) watershed is a crucial source of water for much of California for people and the environment. The Delta watershed comprises approximately 20 percent of California’s land mass and constitutes the state’s largest source of surface water, supplying a portion of the water supply to two-thirds of Californians and millions of acres of farmland. The Delta is also home to numerous fish, wildlife, and plant species of very high ecological, economic, and cultural importance.

In water years 2021 and 2022 the Delta watershed and all of California experienced critically dry hydrologic conditions, resulting in drought or near-drought conditions throughout the state. The lasting impacts of water years 2020-2022, the driest three-year period on record, still persist in some regions. The combination of unusually low precipitation, warm temperatures, and dry soils resulted in unprecedented low runoff from the Sierra-Cascade snowpack, causing significant reductions in water supplies and low reservoir storage levels. In recognition of these dry conditions, on May 10, 2021, Governor Newsom declared a drought emergency for 41 counties, including those within the Delta watershed, outlining various actions that the State Water Board and other agencies should take or consider, including curtailments to prohibit diversions when water was not available at a water right holder’s or claimant’s priority of right. On March 24, 2023, Governor Newsom issued a partial rollback of emergency restrictions that were no longer needed.


  Delta Watershed Water Unavailability

On August 20, 2021, the State Water Board issued initial orders imposing curtailment and reporting requirements to all water right holders and claimants in the Delta watershed. These orders were rescinded on April 3, 2023.

  For information on compliance and responses to curtailment and reporting orders, visit our Curtailment Compliance and Responses page.

  To request a copy of written public comments on the emergency regulation, please send an email to Bay-Delta@waterboards.ca.gov.

2022 Revision and Readoption

2021 Adoption

Responses to the forms discussed in this section must be submitted through the State Water Board’s Survey Portal. The login and password needed to access the Survey Portal are provided on the initial order, dated August 20, 2021, that all water right holders and claimants received. The login is the water right ID and the password is generally the same as the reporting identifier used to access the Electronic Water Right Information Management System (eWRIMS) Report Management System (RMS) for submission of annual reports of water diversion and use.

Compliance Certification Form
All water right holders and claimants are required to submit this form for each applicable right or claim.

Human Health and Safety Certification Form
This form is for water right holders and claimants requesting an exception to curtailment for minimum human health and safety needs.

Non-Consumptive Use Certification Form
This form is for water right holders and claimants requesting an exception to curtailment in order to continue diversions for non-consumptive uses.

Enhanced Reporting Forms

For more information regarding enhanced reporting of projected demand and prior diversions, please visit the Delta Watershed Enhanced Reporting Webpage.

Human Health and Safety Reporting Form

This form is for water right holders and claimants who continue to divert above 55 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) or an amount not quantifiable in GPCD for minimum human health and safety needs under an approved Petition to Increase Human Health and Safety Diversions. Monthly reporting using this form is required for all diversions made under an approved petition.

  Delta Watershed Curtailment Status List

Rescission of Curtailment and Reporting Orders

Effective April 3, 2023, all orders imposing water right curtailment and reporting requirements (curtailment and reporting orders) issued pursuant to the emergency curtailment and reporting regulation for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) watershed (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 23, § 876.1 et seq.) were rescinded.

The curtailment and reporting orders imposed reporting requirements and required water right holders and claimants to monitor the Delta Drought website and cease diversions when the Delta Watershed Curtailment Status List showed their right or claim was curtailed.

As a result of this rescission, water right holders and claimants are no longer subject to curtailment requirements under the drought emergency regulation for the Delta Watershed. This includes checking curtailment statuses, enhanced reporting for larger rights and claims, and reporting for human health and safety exceptions. Pending requests for an exception to curtailment are considered closed. This rescission does not eliminate ongoing or pending enforcement actions for past violations and related settlements.

Curtailment List Archive

Curtailment orders were authorized by the emergency regulation adopted by the State Water Board on July 20, 2022, and approved by the Office of Administrative Law on August 12, 2022 (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 23, §§ 876.1-879.3.). Determinations of water unavailability used to inform curtailments orders were based on the Water Unavailability Methodology for the Delta Watershed, per the Board’s emergency regulation.

Curtailment Status History compilation (Excel workbook)




  How to Conserve

   Delta watershed residents can help! Surface and groundwater users can help lessen drought impacts, and even small efforts can result in huge benefits for flows and fish.

Here are just a few ways to help:

  • Reduce diversions from surface and groundwater sources
  • Conserve water, limit non-food irrigation, and reuse graywater (i.e., water from sinks, showers, baths, washing machines, or dishwashers)
  • Coordinate diversion timing with neighbors to reduce cumulative effects
  • Prepare for ongoing drought by exploring water storage options (e.g., rain collection, roofwater harvesting, or tank storage)

  Click here for more water saving tips.

Dutch Slough
Dutch Slough, located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta near Oakley, California.
Photo credit: CA Dept of Water Resources.

  How to Report an Unauthorized Diversion or Water Waste

Report an Environmental Concern logo

  Visit the CalEPA Complaint System to report unauthorized diversions, such as violations of water right permits or diversions impacting fisheries.

Save Our Water logo

  Visit savewater.ca.gov to report water waste, such as leaks and overwatering, to your local water agency.

  Stay informed

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