The YCWA

The Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA) is a stand-alone public agency governed by a board of 7 elected officials to serve the people of Yuba County. Established by a special act of the California State Legislature in 1959, the Agency’s primary missions are flood protection, water supply, fisheries protection and enhancement, hydroelectric generation, and recreation.

Today, YCWA owns and operates facilities with a capacity of storing approximately 1 million acre-feet of water and generating nearly 400 megawatts of hydropower.
Each year, YCWA releases more than 300 thousand acre-feet of water to eight irrigation districts that convey the water to local farmers and ranchers in Yuba County.

As a leader in water transfers, efficient water management and fisheries restoration, the Agency is involved in many collaborative efforts with local, state and federal agencies, and conservation groups. In 2009, YCWA received the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for the Lower Yuba River Accord. Presented to the Agency by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the GEELA is California’s highest and most prestigious environmental honor.

History

YCWA was established in 1959 to improve flood protection and provide a water supply to the people of Yuba County. Yuba County has historically endured devastating floods, due in part to Gold Rush era hydraulic mining practices that washed millions of cubic yards of debris into the Yuba River, raising the riverbed and increasing the flood risk.

As gold mining gave way to farming and ranching, water users south of the Yuba River over-drafted the aquifer, causing dramatic declines in groundwater levels. To resolve these problems, YCWA proposed the Yuba River Development Project, a multipurpose flood control, water and power project that was approved in 1961. In 1966, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a license for the project, and YCWA completed construction in 1970.