Accessibility mode is enabled

Skip to Top / Tab to View Menu Options
Skip to Left Navigation / Tab to View Content

Groundwater Substitution Transfer

As California experiences its driest year on record in almost 130 years, the City of Sacramento and seven other local water agencies, are participating in a water “substitution” transfer to help other water agencies in need.

The City, along with our regional partners, are able to participate in the transfer because they carefully manage a groundwater basin, which is an underground layer of sand and gravel that naturally collects water.

Groundwater provides up to 20 percent of the City’s drinking water needs. The City in recent years has been investing in groundwater well maintenance and improvements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about the transfer:

How much would the City receive for the transfer?

The City would receive up to $5 million for the transfer, which will help fund drinking water and conservation programs.

What will revenues from the transfer fund?

Funds from the transfer will be used to re-invest back into the groundwater program, such as maintaining and improving groundwater wells.

It will also help fund a City water conservation program called Leak Free Sacramento, which helps income-eligible customers fix leaks.

These investments provide the City with flexibility and better resiliency to climate change when it comes to drinking water supplies.

How does a water substitution transfer work?

Similar to keeping money in a savings account, the City stores water in its groundwater basin that it plans to use during periods of drought.

For the transfer, the City will pump out some of the previously stored groundwater to use for its customers; a withdrawal from the savings account.

The City then “substitutes” that amount of water and leaves it in the Folsom Reservoir and the American River so that it will flow to water agencies in need.

Why is the City asking people to conserve water if it selling some of its own?

The Sacramento region is part of a larger, integrated water system statewide that is experiencing water scarcity during severe drought and the Governor has required that all water agencies ask their customers to conserve water.

As climate change and drought affect how the State and the City of Sacramento uses water, conservation is an important part of water supply management and using a natural resource responsibly.

Is the water I save by reducing my water use being used for the transfer?

No. The City will pump more water from its groundwater basin to use for the transfer, which is made possible because of investments in its groundwater well program.

What agencies would receive water from the transfer?

Santa Clara Valley Water District and State water contractors would receive up to 16,500 acre-feet of water from a total of seven regional agencies, including the City of Sacramento.

When will the transfer take place?

The substitution of water has been approved by the State and is scheduled to take place from July 1 to November 30.