The California Aqueduct, part of the State Water Project, flows by an almond orchard in the Central Valley. (Photo: Alabn, via Shutterstock)
The State Water Project comprises 700 miles of tunnels, pipelines, aqueducts and siphons that transport water from California’s north to its more arid south, serving 26 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland along the way. It’s a huge project with a lot of infrastructure, and it’s most of what DWR does. But more than 60 years later, there is a move under way to take control of the project out of the hands of DWR and place it in an independent commission.
Pfeiffer Beach at the mouth of the Big Sur River in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. View looking upriver from the beach, with Cupressus macrocarpa trees. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Decades ago, California began taking over the management of thousands of acres of rural wildlands in dozens of counties across the state. But over the years a problem arose: With the state in control, some counties were cut out of the money that they otherwise would have collected from property taxes. The state had promised to compensate the counties for the lost revenue by making payments in lieu of taxes.