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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed Drought & Curtailment Information

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.

The Delta watershed and all of California is experiencing a second consecutive year of dry conditions, which has resulted in drought or near-drought conditions throughout the state. The combination of unusually low precipitation, warm temperatures, and dry soils have resulted in unprecedented low runoff from the Sierra-Cascade snowpack, resulting in significant reductions in water supplies and extreme 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 is not available at a water right holder’s or claimant’s priority of right.


  Delta Watershed Water Unavailability

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

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. (Generally, the login is the water right ID and the password is the reporting identifier used to access the Report Management System, or RMS, when submitting annual water diversion reports.)

Note: The Deputy Director has authorized an extension to the deadlines to submit the following forms.

All water right holders and claimants are required to submit a Compliance Certification Form for each applicable right or claim by September 10, 2021.

In addition to the Compliance Certification Form, larger diverters (those with a water right face value amount or water right claim who reported diversions of 5,000 acre-feet or greater annually) are required to submit the Enhanced Reporting of Actual Diversions and Projected Demand Form by the 10th day of every month, with the first report required to be completed and electronically submitted by September 17, 2021.

If a water right holder or claimant is requesting an exception to curtailment now or anticipates a need to do so in the future in order to continue diversions for non-consumptive uses or to meet minimum human health and safety needs, a Non-Consumptive Use Exception Form or Human Health and Safety Exception Form must be submitted by September 17, 2021, regardless of the current curtailment status of the water right or claim.

The following tutorials are available to assist diverters in checking their curtailment status and completing these forms.

  Delta Watershed Curtailment Status List

This serves as a water right curtailment order.

The list below shows the curtailment status of each water right and claim in the Delta watershed (including the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds). This curtailment order is authorized by the emergency regulation adopted by the State Water Board on August 3, 2021, and approved by the Office of Administrative Law on August 19, 2021. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 23, §§ 876-879.2.)

Curtailment List
A status in red means the identified water right or claim of right is curtailed during the specified time period and water is not authorized for diversion unless an exception applies (please refer to the Emergency Regulation text to see if you qualify for an exception). A status in green means the identified water right or claim of right is not curtailed during the specified time period. Diverters who claim both riparian and pre-1914 appropriative water right claims under the same Statement of Diversion and Use are treated solely as riparian claimants. You can search this list by water right identification number (water right ID), owner name, water right type, and location by subwatershed and the Legal Delta boundary. This list will be updated weekly, and more frequently if there are changes in precipitation and runoff.

Basis of Current Curtailments
The determination of water unavailability used to inform this curtailment order is based on the Delta Water Unavailability Methodology (Methodology). Documents describing the approach to assess water unavailability and the data used to support the determination are posted on the Water Unavailability Methodology webpage.

The following priorities of water rights and claims are curtailed for the month of September 2021, as identified on the Curtailment Status List below:

  1. All post-1914 appropriative water rights in the San Joaquin River watershed;
  2. All pre-1914 appropriative water right claims in the San Joaquin River watershed;
  3. All riparian water right claims in the American River watershed upstream of Folsom Reservoir;
  4. All riparian water right claims in the Calaveras subwatershed that are outside of the Legal Delta;*
  5. A subset of Central Valley Project and State Water Project water rights in the Sacramento River watershed and in the Legal Delta; and
  6. Pre-1914 claims and post-1914 appropriative rights on the following Sacramento River tributaries: 
    1. Rights and claims in the Bear River subwatershed with a priority date of 1853 or later;
    2. Rights and claims in the Yuba River subwatershed with a priority date of 1908 or later;
    3. Rights and claims in the Putah Creek subwatershed with a priority date of 1923 or later;
    4. Rights and claims in the Cache Creek subwatershed with a priority date of 1857 or later; and
    5. Rights and claims in the Stony Creek subwatershed with a priority date of 1963 or later.

*These water right claims were not included with the hard copy orders that were mailed on August 20, 2021 (copies of which are posted on this webpage), but should be curtailed until further notice by the State Water Board. Because of deferred notice to riparian claimants with diversions in the Calaveras subwatershed that are outside of the Legal Delta, curtailment of these claims is required as soon as notice is provided but no later than August 27, 2021.

Note: In the curtailment status list below, claimed priority years that are previously shown as "Riparian/Pre-14" are now shown as "Riparian or Pre-14" for clarity. This change is solely cosmetic and does not change any water rights claims or curtailment decisions.

Curtailment statuses for October 2021 will be coming soon.

  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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Contact Us

  If you would like to request a copy of written public comments submitted to the Board on an item noticed for public comment, please send a request to commentletters@waterboards.ca.gov, identifying the item as listed on the Notice or board meeting agenda by date, agenda item and number (if any). The Clerk of the Board will respond by sending a link to access them.