Just as the Central Valley Project allowed for the distribution of water throughout the region and led to the development of the Central Valley, today we need new public investments in water storage facilities, distribution networks, and other conservation efforts in order to meet the water needs of the state.

There have been multiple studies on possible reservoir sites South of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In 1996, the Department of Water Resources identified dam sites located south of the Delta. A wide range of storage capacities was analyzed for each reservoir site, resulting in almost 180 different alternatives. One of the most promising sites identified in the 1996 Study was the Del Puerto Canyon near Patterson.

The Exchange Contractors, in partnership with Del Puerto Water District, are developing plans to construct and operate the Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir Project. When completed, the 800-acre reservoir would store up to 82,000 acre-feet of water.

The Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir Project is a critically important water conservation and storage project that is proposed to be built west of Patterson and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It will help promote water reliability and environmental sustainability, while solving the issue of reoccurring flooding in surrounding areas.

The project is one of many major infrastructure investments that the Exchange Contractors are leading to address ongoing water shortages and ensure that the Central Valley is resilient and environmentally sustainable for years to come.

This is important because water reliability to the west side of the Central Valley in recent years have fluctuated wildly, with little predictability about what the next year will bring. Storage projects like the Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir Project make it possible to retain water during years where water is plentiful and release water during droughts, making the region more resilient.

The project is environmentally friendly. Wildlife refuges south of the Delta are home to a vast array of animals, birds, and plant life, but these regions are increasingly facing a lack of available water. The Reservoir Project will make water in the area more available, which can support wildlife refuges and better control water flows to areas in need.

This not only benefits the agricultural economy of the region, which is of course dependent on water to thrive, but also the surrounding communities. Over a half dozen surrounding communities rely on groundwater, many of which are disadvantaged communities with limited resources. The new capacity from the Reservoir Project will help to sustainably manage the groundwater for these communities, which will help stabilize the groundwater supply in the area. Furthermore, the project will solve the reoccurring issue of flooding on Del Puerto Creek, which occurs during times of heavy rainfall, and negatively impacts surrounding farms, residential areas, and commercial activity.

The Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir Project is a great example of what the next generation of infrastructure projects can do to promote water reliability and environmental sustainability in support of our communities.

Chris White

Executive director. San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority