Water Transfers

Water Transfers are voluntary actions taken by willing buyers and sellers, and require infrastructure capacity available to convey the water between the two parties. To make water available for transfer, the willing seller must take an action to reduce the consumptive use of water or release water from storage.  

Types of Water Transfers

Groundwater Substitution

Groundwater substitution transfers make surface water available for transfer by reducing surface water diversions and replacing that water with groundwater pumping. The rationale is that surface water demands are reduced because a like amount of groundwater is used to meet the demands. The resulting increase in available surface water supplies can be transferred to other users. In Butte County, groundwater substitution transfer programs are subject to Chapter 33 of the Butte County Code. No groundwater substitution transfer programs have originated in Butte County since 1994.

Cropland Idling / Crop Shifting

Cropland idling includes the idling of land that would have been plated during the transfer period in the absence of the transfer. Crop shifting is the shifting from historically planted higher-water-intensive crops to lower-water-using crops. It does not include land fallowed as part of normal farm operations, which does not make water available for transfer. Cropland idling or crop-shifting water transfers make water available by reducing the consumptive use of surface water applied for irrigation.

Reservoir Storage Release

Water is made available for transfer by reservoir release when the reservoir operators release water in excess of what would be released annually under normal operations. The water must also be released at a time when it can be captured and/or diverted downstream.