Western Canal Water District (District) was formed by a vote of landowners on December 18, 1984 as a California Water District, and currently encompasses a land area of approximately 67,500 acres, of which 58,167 acres are irrigable. The District purchased the “Western Canal” water system from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), who had acquired it from the Great Western Power Company. The canal was originally developed by the Western Canal Company, which began operations in 1911.
The District’s original diversion was located at the Western Canal Company’s dam on the Feather River. The Oroville Reservoir Complex displaced the diversion facilities and upstream portion of the Western Canal. The supply is now provided by two outlet structures located on the northwestern edge of the Thermalito Afterbay. The maximum combine outlet flows are 1250 cubic feet per second (cfs).
The pre-1914 surface water rights of the District comprises 150,000 acre feet of natural flow from the Feather River, subject to reduction during drought and 145,000 acre feet from upstream storage water (North Fork Feather River), not subject to reduction. On May 27, 1969, PG&E entered into an agreement with the California State Department of Water Resources (DWR) providing for the diversion of Feather River water below Oroville Dam. That agreement, which was reauthorized through a new agreement executed in 1986 after the District was formed, spells out the timing and quantity of deliveries by DWR to the District.
The District also has an adjudicated water right on Butte Creek subject to surplus availability: Paragraph 87 of the 1942 Butte Creek Decree No. 18917 describes the entitlement. Maximum diversion is 9,300 acre feet with the minimum being zero.