December 15, 2004

California Water Subsidies: Glossary

Acre-foot: The amount of water needed to cover an acre of land one foot deep, or 325,851 gallons.

Bureau of Reclamation: Federal government agency, part of the Interior Department that oversees the Central Valley Project and 180 other federal water projects in 17 Western states.

Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA): 1992 law by Rep. George Miller of California, aimed at reforming the CVP's operations and reducing its impact on fish and wildlife habitat. Instituted pricing reforms and restricted contracts to 25 years in length.

Environmental Water Account (EWA): Federal-state joint agency that buys water from contractors in the CVP and SWP at market rates to use for restoring fish and wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay-Delta. A virtual water district whose customers are fish.

"Full cost" price: Water rate calculated by the Bureau of Reclamation each year for each CVP contractor. Includes full operation and maintenance charges, payments towards capital costs, and interest on these costs calculated from 1982.

Recipient (or contractor): A farm or water user organization (water district, irrigation district or mutual water company) that contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation for CVP water.

Reclamation Reform Act (RRA): 1982 law intended to limit the amount of federally subsidized water that any one farm could receive. Applied not only to the CVP, but to all federal water projects in the West.

Replacement cost: The estimated price, according to studies by the Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources, of irrigation water from a new dam on the San Joaquin River. This price, which is used to calculate our top subsidy estimate, is a significant underestimate — the real cost could be twice as much.

State Water Project: Large, state-run project that provides water for agricultural and urban users in California. The State Water Project parallels the CVP in some areas but charges much higher prices for its water.

Water district: A water user organization — water district, irrigation district or private mutual water company — that contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation for Central Valley Project water.