In the late 1920's and early 1930's California's shortage of developed water became real apparent on the Eastside of the San Joaquin Valley as many water wells went completely dry. As water wells, farms and jobs dried up on the valley's Eastside, farmers, Landowners and cities knew they needed a more reliable water source to survive and an innovative idea was hatched.
The new idea was to divert Water from the San Joaquin River for use on the Valleys Eastside by constructing Friant Dam and the Friant Kern and Madera Canals. The Water Rights for the upper San Joaquin River water belong to the farmers in the Firebaugh, Dos Palos and Los Banos areas are referred to as the "Exchange Contractors". The proposal was to trade or "Exchange" water deliveries from the Sacramento Delta through Construction of the Delta-Mendota canal to deliver the "Exchanged Water" to them.
This new project was the original CVP, Central Valley Project, that incorporated pumping water from the Delta providing 365 day on-demand water deliveries using the Delta Mendota canal to convey the Sacramento San Joaquin delta Water to the rights holders in "Exchange" for letting eastside valley farms and cities divert their San Joaquin River Water.
The "Exchange Water" source was developed with construction of Folsom dam north of Sacramento to provide flood control, hydro electric power and fresh water flows through the Delta during the critical summer months with some of the flow contracted for delivery to the land owners south of the delta that put their farms on the line to repay for the CVP water projects construction.
This was one of the greatest compromises ever achieved in California water with the "Exchange Contractors" agreeing to allow the "use" of their water rights. The construction of Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River created Millerton Lake providing desperately needed flood control with the stored flood water providing controlled water deliveries through the Madera-Friant Canal and the Friant-Kern Canal that returned the Valley's Eastside to agricultural prominence.
The original CVP Friant-Kern Canal provisions WERE AGREED TO by California, the U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate and signed by the United States President specifically stated that the San Joaquin River would go dry most years from gravelly Ford north to where the next flowing downstream tributary confluence existed. Both California and the Federal Governments agreed that drying up parts of the San Joaquin was a reasonable tradeoff to save jobs, create more jobs, provide a stable food supply, produce clean hydro electric energy and flood protection.
For the assurance of these contracted water deliveries Landowners on the Eastside of the Valley put Millions of acres of their land up as collateral to secure funding to build canals, water delivery systems, construct Friant Dam and Folsom Dam to prevent flooding, create flood water storage and put flood water to beneficial use. The Valley's CVP Eastside Project became a successful reality.
The San Francisco Bay area divert their water upstream and around the San Joaquin River Delta depriving the delta of natural historic fresh water flows and continue to pipeline more and more water from the Delta's tributaries each year to service their growing population demands. San Francisco area cities contribute to the deteriorating water quality in the delta by dumping over 380 million gallons of polluted sewage water into the Delta every day while increasing fresh water deficiencies to the Delta.
While Bay area politicians blame Eastside valley farms and valley residents for receiving a fixed amount of contracted water for over 60 years Bay area politicians have maneuvered to take San Joaquin Valley water to supposedly solve the Delta's increasing water deficiencies they are equally or more responsible for.
The 1992 CVPIA Central Valley Project Improvement Act and the 2009 San Joaquin River Settlement Act are true political water grabs used in conjunction with abuse of the E.S.A. Endangered Species Act to take contracted water from the Eastside of the Valley. San Francisco Bay area politicians do this while ignoring the impacts their sewage pollution and water diversions around the Bay-Delta are causing on the ecosystem of the Sacramento San Joaquin River Bay-Delta.
The success of the Valley's Eastside Bay-Friant Dam water system is in jeopardy today because of San Francisco Bay area politics. The good news is Congress has passed HR 1837 "The San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act" a Legislative solution to the valley water crisis and it is critical that the U.S Senate also pass HR 1837 and the President needs to sign it into Law NOW.