California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Refuge Water Supply

What is the Refuge Water Supply Program?

Waterfowl on the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Numbers of waterfowl utilizing the Central Valley wetlands have declined significantly since the 1880s, resulting, in part, from the loss of 95% of historic wetlands and more than 98% of the State’s riparian habitat. To help mitigate for the construction and operation of the Central Valley Project (CVP), Congress passed the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) in 1992. The CVPIA initiated significant changes in the policies and management of the CVP in part to restore the ecological features of central valley rivers and streams. One of these changes included providing water for state, federal and private managed wetlands. Section 3406(d) of the CVPIA addresses Central Valley refuges and wildlife areas. It requires the Secretary of the Interior to obtain firm water supplies to provide, either directly or through contractual agreements with other appropriate parties, firm water supplies of suitable quality to maintain and improve wetland habitat areas on units of the federal National Wildlife Refuge System; on the Gray Lodge, Los Banos, Volta, North Grasslands, and Mendota state wildlife management areas; and on the Grasslands Resources Conservation District in the Central Valley of California. The United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) Mid-Pacific Region is tasked with acquiring and delivering this water to designated CVPIA wetlands.

CDFW's Role in Implementing 3604(d) Refuge Water Supply

The CDFW Refuge Water Supply Program (RWSP) coordinates closely with Reclamation, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Grassland Water District (GWD), and the Central Valley Joint Venture (CVJV) to provide and manage water supplies for wetland habitat on 19 specific federal, state, and private wetlands in the Central Valley as identified in Section 3406(d) of the CVPIA. The primary objective of the RWSP is to provide coordination and contract management for water deliveries to the Central Valley Wildlife Areas specified in the CVPIA, to coordinate with Reclamation, USFWS, GWD, and the CVJV in order to achieve the objectives of Section 3406(d) of the CVPIA, in support of the 2006 Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture Implementation Plan.

Program Structure & Key Activities

Within CDFW, the RWSP spans the North Central and Central Regions, the Wildlife Branch’s Lands Program and the Water Branch. Externally, the program is partnered with the USFWS, GWD, CVJV, Reclamation, and non-governmental organizations including Ducks Unlimited. The program is coordinated through the Water Branch’s Statewide Water Planning Unit in conjunction with CDFW regional land managers, wildlife area managers and Environmental Scientists. Key activities include:

  • Coordinate internally with regional CDFW staff, supervisors, and managers on a State-wide basis and externally with USBR, USFWS, and GWD.
  • Participate in Reclamation/USFWS/DFG/GWD Refuge Water coordination meetings.
  • Act as Contract Manager for USBR/DFG Long-Term Refuge Water Contracts, and represent CDFW interests in Reclamation contracts with local water entities to deliver acquired water to the subject State wildlife areas.
  • Represent CDFW interests on the Interagency Refuge Water Management Team, the South of Delta Refuge Water Supply Augmentation Program Steering Committee, and the Interagency Refuge Operations Group.
  • Participate in meetings for ongoing conveyance construction projects and the negotiation of individual water conveyance contracts with water districts/purveyors.
  • Participate in CVPIA federal/state cost share reconciliation.

Refuge Water Supply Links

Central Valley Project Improvement Act

Reclamation CVPIA

U.S. Fish and Wildlife CVPIA Project Implementation Division

Grasslands Water District

State Wildlife Areas (WA)

Gray Lodge WA

Los Banos WA

Mendota WA

North Grasslands WA

Volta WA

For more information, contact Jeffrey Shu at or (916) 445-8572.