Practicing Wise Water Use and Promoting Stewardship Through Conservation
Since its creation in 1951 the Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District has served the needs of the local community by managing water resources for farming while stabilizing groundwater for other uses with progressive and pro-active water planning.
Today, the District manages three dams, two hydroelectric plants, two reservoirs, more than 150 miles of canals and laterals and one of the world's longest, inflatable rubber dams. District boundaries encompass 195,000 acres of Yolo County, including the cities of Woodland, Davis and Winters, and the towns of Capay, Esparto, Madison and other small communities within Capay Valley.
Making the Most of District Resources
||Our Primary Source: Clear Lake - Yolo County's primary source of agricultural water comes from 50 miles away in Lake County. The District obtained the rights to store water in Clear Lake in 1967 when it purchased the privately owned Clear Lake Water Company and the Cache Creek Dam. This gave the District the potential to release up to 150,000 acre-feet of water annually.
However, the District's water right to store water in Clear Lake did not provide enough water to supply farmers during dry years, therefore the District constructed the Indian Valley Dam and Reservoir in 1974-1975.
||Yolo County's Life Line: Indian Valley Reservoir - With the completion of the Indian Valley Reservoir in 1975, the District's water resources became less vulnerable to the dry years which often limit water supplies in Yolo County.
The six-mile long, one-mile wide reservoir with a gross capacity of 300,600 acre feet, provides long-term irrigation storage. The District manages the water that the reservoir holds by releasing it as needed. The dam includes a hydroelectric plant. The cost of the dam and reservoir exceeded $9 million and were funded, in part by two bond issues that were retired on time leaving only a loan, originally scheduled to be retired in 2017. However, due to careful financial management, that loan was retired in 1998 making the project debt free.
The total water supply available to the District water users include surface water from Clear Lake, Indian Valley and Cache Creek, and groundwater recharged by the District's operations. In all, the District has surface water storage averaging, over a long term, nearly 200,000 acre-feet per year.
Cache Creek Dam - The Yolo Water and Power Company finished construction of Cache Creek Dam in 1914. It is situated five miles downstream of Clear Lake and was built to store winter water in Clear Lake that would normally run-off into the Sacramento River. Cache Creek is the outlet from Clear Lake, but a rock ledge known as the Grigsby Riffle limits rate at which water can flow past. In 1998, the spill gate of the dam was modified to increase safety and minimize damage from floating debris.
The Chapman Reservoir
Capay Diversion Dam - The Capay Diversion Dam is located approximately two miles above the town of Capay on Cache Creek. This dam was built by the Yolo Water & Power Company and it serves as the headworks for the canal system. Here, the water released from Clear Lake and Indian Valley Reservoir is diverted into the West Adams and the Winters canals, which then feed the entire canal system. The Capay Dam underwent a major renovation in 1994 which included the installation of one of the longest inflatable dams in the world. The inflatable dam improves safety and the District's ability to deliver water.
- Located at the base of the western foothills, north of the town of Winters, the Chapman Reservoir is a small, 280 acre-foot dual-purpose reservoir the District maintains for flood control and irrigation purposes.
Delivering Water to Local Farms:
The District normally provides water to a farm within 24-hours of a request, delivering the water by gravity through canals and then diverting it into fields through ditches. In an average year this system supplies approximately 150,000 acre-feet of irrigation water to more than 55,000 acres of agricultural fields. Water deliveries are measured and sold by the acre-foot. One acre-foot of water is enough to cover an acre of land one foot deep and contains 325,851 gallons. Average crop use is between two and three acre-feet of water each season.
Benefiting the Environment:
Very little water released by the District is wasted during the irrigation season. Most tailwater, which runs off fields, is eventually returned to the conveyance system and reused downstream. Construction of Indian Valley Dam enabled the District to manage flood waters thereby reducing some of the flood risk and using the water to improve Yolo County's ground water. Now, it is stored and released for beneficial use in Lake and Yolo Counties, including recreation and the environment. In addition to easing flood flows on Cache Creek, the reservoir has also increased reliability of water flow for what is naturally a dry creek during summers. The increased flow of water has been a boon to the natural environment and recreationalists. The District also maintains a number of sites specifically dedicated to preservation of the natural environment in the Cache Creek watershed. These areas, in addition to Indian Valley Reservoir now provide critical habitat for area species.
While Yolo County is fortunate to have an healthy water supply, it continues to be a "water deficient" area with increasing water demands to address urban growth and restoration of habitat, while at the same time, maintaining a viable farm economy. Husbanding the groundwater basins/aquifers through groundwater recharge projects and conservation of existing supplies are only part of the answer. Technology and improved water management will also be part of the District's future investments.