California has more than 1,400 named
dams and 1,300 reservoirs that help with flood management, water
storage and water transport. Hydropower from dams also provides a
relatively pollution-free source of electricity. Dams are owned,
maintained and operated by federal, state and local agencies.
The State Water Project’s most visible facility is the
444-mile-long California Aqueduct. The aqueduct, which parallels
Interstate 5 through the San Joaquin Valley, transports water
from Oroville Dam to Lake Perris in Southern California.
Located just north of Fresno, the Friant Dam helps deliver water
as it runs toward the Merced River. Built in the late 1930s, its
waters helped transform the Central Valley into an agricultural
Owned by San Francisco, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite
National Park provides water to nearly 3 million people in 29
cities across the San Francisco Bay Area. The water, provided by
snowmelt via the Tuolumne River, does not require filtration.
Being one of the biggest hydroelectric facilities in the United
States and a National Landmark, Hoover Dam generates power to
serve more than 1.3 million people. The dam also provides flood
control, irrigation, and water storage along the Colorado River.
“Infrastructure” in general can be defined as the components and
equipment needed to operate, as well as the structures needed
for, public works systems. Typical examples include roads,
bridges, sewers and water supply systems.Various dams and
infrastructural buildings have given Californians and the West
the opportunity to control water, dating back to the days of
The construction of Glen Canyon Dam in north-central Arizona also
created Lake Powell. Lake Powell serves as a holding tank for the
Colorado River Upper Basin States: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and
Oroville Dam is the centerpiece and largest water storage
facility of the State Water Project. Located about 70 miles north
of Sacramento at the Feather River confluence, Oroville Dam
creates a reservoir that can hold 3.5 million acre-feet of water.
Shasta Dam creates the largest storage reservoir in the state,
Shasta Lake. In years of normal precipitation, the Shasta system
stores and distributes about 20 percent of the state’s developed
water — about 7 million acre-feet —through its massive system of
reservoirs and canals.
The State Water Project (SWP) is responsible for bringing
drinking water to 25 million people and provides irrigation for
750,000 acres of farmland. Without it California would never have
become the economic powerhouse it is today.