Delta and Statewide Planning Processes

California Water Plan, California Water Action Plan, Bay Delta Plan, Delta Plan, California Water Fix, and more … this handy information page will help sort out the multitude of water planning processes currently underway

This page last updated on October 18, 2016.

many_ways_to_go_400_clr_7107-1Currently, there are three major planning processes focused exclusively on the Delta, two broader statewide plans, and multitudes of smaller plans and programs that affect the Delta in some way.  Some plans are in the implementation stage while others are still in the planning stages.

What are all these different plans and processes? This page will help sort them all out for you.  On this page, the various plans and programs are organized and summarized and links are provided for more information. Delta-focused planning processes are covered first, followed by the statewide plans, and lastly, brief summaries of the various smaller plans and programs which affect the Delta in some way.

This page is meant to be a reasonably complete listing of plans and programs underway; however, with so many agencies at work with a hand in the Delta, not every plan or program may be listed here.  Did I miss something important?  Let me know.  Your comments and suggestions welcome.  Email Maven



Cal Water Fix LogoCalifornia Water Fix, more commonly known as the “Delta tunnels” project, is the Brown Administration’s controversial plan to build new infrastructure in the north Delta to deliver water via two 30-mile long tunnels to the existing water export facilities in the south Delta.  The project is a trimmed-down version of its predecessor, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (or BDCP), which has been in the planning stages since 2006.

Click here to read more about California Water Fix.


SWRCB logo water boardsIn recent years, declining water quality, plummeting populations of native fish, and increasing demand for limited water resources have been at the heart of several state agency planning processes, one of those being the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay-Delta Plan.

The ‘San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary Water Quality Control Plan,’ blessedly known as ‘Bay Delta Plan’ for short, identifies existing and potential beneficial uses of water and then establishes water quality objectives to protect those uses.  The State Water Board is the agency responsible for developing and modifying the Bay Delta Plan under the authority of the Federal Clean Water Act and the state’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. Usually water quality control planning is generally done by the regional water boards; however, the State Water Board develops and adopts the Bay Delta Plan due to the importance of the Delta as a major source of water supply for the state.

Click here to read more about the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan.


Delta Stewardship Council new logoThe Delta Plan is California’s long-term comprehensive plan for managing the water and environmental resources of the Delta as well as dealing with the multiple stressors that impact its ecosystem.

The Delta Reform Act of 2009 created the Delta Stewardship Council and charged it with developing the Delta Plan; the first iteration was adopted in April of 2013.

Click here to read more about the Delta Plan.


EcoRestore Logo

With only about 5% of the historical wetlands remaining, restoration of habitat is still considered a critical component of the state’s plan to improve conditions in the Delta. Restoration activities in the Delta are being pursued through the California EcoRestore program, which proposes to restore more than 30,000 acres of habitat by 2020.

Click here to read more about California Eco Restore.


dfw logoThe Delta Conservation Framework is an effort led by the Department of Fish and Wildlife to collaborate with federal, state, and local agencies, and the Delta stakeholder community to develop a 25-year, high-level conservation framework for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Yolo Bypass and Suisun Marsh.

The Delta Conservation Framework will be completed in 2017 and is intended to be the long-term continuation of the California Eco Restore program, guiding Delta conservation efforts beyond 2040.

Click here for more information on the Delta Conservation Framework.



PRD-banner-474pxThe California Water Plan is the state’s long-term strategic plan for guiding the management and development of water resources.  Updated every 5 years, the Plan is developed with extensive stakeholder involvement, from individuals and groups to government agencies, nonprofits and NGOs that represent multiple disciplines and tribal, regional, and local interests as well as environmental, agricultural, and urban concerns.  The Plan is intended to inform legislative action as well as planning processes and decision making at all levels of government.

The Plan describes current water resource conditions, identifies potential future conditions and the factors driving those changes, recognizes the challenges and impediments to effective solutions, and lays out an extensive list of potential actions that are intended to move California toward more sustainable management of water resources and more resilient water management systems.  Seventeen objectives and over 300 specific actions are identified; however, the Plan does not create mandates, prioritize actions, or allocate funding, although funding is discussed.

The California Water Plan is never done; it is a continuous planning cycle that strives to update the documents every five years.  The 2013 update was finally released at the end of October, 2014.  The next iteration, Update 2018, is already underway.

Click here for the 2013 California Water Plan.


jerry brownThe California Water Action Plan is Governor Brown’s 5 year plan to move California toward more sustainable water management by providing more reliable water supplies for farms and communities, restoring important wildlife habitat and native species populations, and to take actions that will help the state’s water systems and environment become more resilient in the face of future changes.  The Water Action Plan is designed to support the goals of reliability, restoration, and resilience, and is a clear articulation of the actions the administration is committed to seeing completed during Governor Brown’s remaining time in office.

CWAP-CoverThe California Water Action Plan, a joint effort between the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the California Environmental Protection Agency, was released in January of 2014, and updated in 2016.

The Plan lists ten actions and associated sub-actions that include: making conservation a California way of life, increasing regional self-reliance and integrated water management, achieving the coequal goals for the Delta, protecting and restoring important ecosystems, preparing for droughts, expanding water storage, improving groundwater management, and increasing flood protection.

The Water Action Plan also calls for continued work on the San Joaquin River Restoration project, local partnerships to protect key habitat at the Salton Sea, and continued restoration efforts in the Klamath Basin.

For more information on the California Water Action Plan, click here.


SPFC FacilitiesThe State Plan of Flood Control is a descriptive document that details the infrastructure and operation of the state-federal flood management system that includes 1600 miles of project levees, five major weirs, four dams, six pumping plants, floodways, bypasses and drainage facilities.  SPFC infrastructure influences flooding and flood management on more than 2.2 million acres in the Central Valley that stretch from Red Bluff to Fresno and include facilities within the Delta.

The State Plan of Flood Control facilities are comprised of numerous separate projects along the mainstem and tributaries of Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers which have been built incrementally over the years since the project was first federally authorized in 1917.

State Plan of Flood Control Facilities are those structures and facilities for which the Central Valley Flood Protection Board or the Department of Water Resources has provided assurances of cooperation to the federal government; it is these State-provided assurances that are an important distinction for what constitutes the State-federal flood protection system.  These other flood protection facilities in the Central Valley that are not covered by State assurances and are not part of the State-federal system are included in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Flood Management System defined in the California Water Code Section 9611.

It is important to note, however, that State Plan of Flood Control facilities are only a portion of a larger flood control system; other non-SPFC facilities work in conjunction to provide flood protection.  For example, upstream reservoirs regulate flows to levels that can be managed by SPFC facilities; private levees and locally operated drainage systems work in conjunction with SPFC facilities; and emergency response, floodplain management and other management practices are all part of the overall flood protection system.

Click here to download the State Plan of Flood Control (a very large document).
Click here for a two-page fact sheet on the State Plan of Flood Control (much smaller document.)



The Delta Protection Commission is the agency responsible for maintaining and implementing a resource management plan for the Primary Zone of the Delta, which includes includes approximately 500,000 acres of waterways, levees and farmed lands.  The Management Plan guides projects that impact land use, agriculture, natural resources, recreation, water, levees, and utilities and infrastructure within the primary zone.  The Plan extends over portions of Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties, who are required to be consistent with the Management Plan.

For more on the Land Use and Resource Management Plan, click here.


cvfpb_logoThe Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP) is a system-wide flood management approach to reduce the risk of flooding for about one million people and $70 billion in infrastructure, homes and businesses with a goal of providing 200-year (1 chance in 200 of flooding in any year) protection to urban areas, and reducing flood risks to small communities and rural agricultural lands.

The CVFPP proposes physical and system improvements in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins to address urban, small community and agricultural area flood protection while integrating ecosystem restoration opportunities and climate change considerations.  Only portions of the Delta that are covered by the State Plan of Flood Control are included in the CVFPP, which amounts to about a third of the Delta’s levees.

For more information on the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, click here.


waterboard_logoThe Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board designates beneficial uses of water bodies, establish water quality objectives to protect those uses, and defines an implementation plan to achieve the objectives, much as the State Water Board does.  Whereas the State Water Board’s Bay-Delta Plan sets objectives for salinity and water project operations, the Central Valley Regional Water Board’s basin plan sets objectives for contaminants such as toxic chemicals, bacterial contamination, pesticides and methylmercury.  The State Water Board’s Bay-Delta Plan is intended to be complementary to the Central Valley Regional Water Board’s basin plan, but supersedes the regional water board’s plan to the extent there is any conflict.

For more on the Central Valley Regional Water Board’s water quality control plan, click here.


DSCLogoThe Delta Science Plan, a product of the Delta Science Program, seeks to address the fragmentation of science in the Delta by developing shared agendas, priorities, and data, and by creating a plan to build more effective interactions between the scientific community and policy and decision makers.  The vision is to build an open science community, “One Delta, One Science,” that will work together to build a shared body of scientific knowledge that will have the capacity to adapt and inform management decisions across multiple organizations and programs.

The Delta Science Plan defines 28 specific actions to achieve the stated objectives of managing scientific conflict, coordinating and integrating Delta science, promoting and performing science synthesis, building more effective policy-science interactions, providing support for adaptive management and advancing the state of Delta knowledge.  The first Delta Science Plan was completed and accepted by the Delta Stewardship Council in October of 2013.

For more information on the Delta Science Plan, click here.


ERP_focusThe Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) is an effort by CDFW, USFWS and NMFS to recover endangered and at-risk species, protect and restore habitats and ecological processes, address non-native invasive species, and improve water and sediment quality both within the Delta and in the major rivers and tributary watersheds that are directly connected to the Delta below major dams and reservoirs.  Current projects in the Delta include riparian, upland, floodplain, and marsh habitat restoration projects; fish screens and fish passage projects; environmental water quality projects, and species assessments.  The ERP coordinates with the many other programs and activities in the Delta including the Delta Conservancy, CVPIA, Fish Restoration Program Agreement, Fish Passage Improvement Program, State Wildlife Action Plan, the California Water Quality Monitoring Council, and the Central Valley Regional Water Board.

For more information on the Ecosystem Restoration Program, click here.


dwrlogoThe Fish Restoration Program Agreement is an agreement between the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Water Resources to address and implement the habitat restoration requirements and related actions in the Delta, Suisun Marsh, and Yolo Bypass as mandated by the biological opinions.  The actions taken by the FRPA will mitigate impacts to delta smelt, longfin smelt, and winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon as a result of SWP operations in the Delta. The primary objective of the program is to restore  8,000 acres of intertidal and associated subtidal habitat in the Delta and Suisun Marsh to benefit delta smelt, 800 acres of low salinity habitat to benefit longfin smelt, and a number of related actions for salmonids.

For more on the Fish Restoration Program Agreement, click here.
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