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The CALFED Bay-Delta Program emerged from water crises of the 1990s, and was shaped by funding crises in the early 2000s. It was seen as an alternative to the costly and time-consuming legal wrangling amongst Delta interests and a way to solve conflicts in the Delta to benefit the system. Throughout these decades, it has always embodied the most important ideals of government: interagency coordination, collaborative problem-solving and public involvement leading to open and transparent decision-making and accountability.

The CALFED Bay-Delta Program is a unique collaboration among 25 state and federal agencies that came together with a mission: to improve California’s water supply and the ecological health of the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

CALFED was created because of the importance of the Delta to California. The majority of the state’s water runs through the Delta and into aqueducts and pipelines that distribute it to 25 million Californians throughout the state, making it the single largest and most important source of water for drinking, irrigation and industry.

As an ecosystem, the Delta is unique as the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast and home to more than 750 species of flora and fauna. Additionally, the Delta is home to more than 500,000 people, a major recreation destination and a crossroads for Northern California infrastructure. Finally, the importance of the Delta has made it a politically-charged battleground that has compounded the issue of finding solutions to its problems as an aging and increasingly fragile system susceptible to the forces of land subsidence, seasonal flooding, a future of climate change and sea level rise, the specter of earthquake and the collapse of its ecosystem.

It was the Delta’s importance to the economic stability of California and the nation that led to the drafting in 2000 of a 30-year plan for its management and restoration. Implementation of the plan was ultimately pledged by 25 state and federal agencies with expertise to manage the complex program. This plan, set forth in a programmatic Record of Decision, laid out a science-based planning process through which the participating agencies were able to make and implement better, more informed decisions and actions on future projects and programs. Two years later, the California Bay-Delta Authority was created to oversee the program’s implementation and Congress adopted the plan in 2004.


Visit the CALFED Website


Updated: Friday March 27, 2020