Sierra Water Trust

The rivers of the Sierra Nevada form an immense natural and engineered water supply network that provides 60 percent of California’s water supply. They also support diverse and complex habitats, which has resulted in the Sierra Nevada ranking as the world’s most ecologically rich region in terms of native aquatic invertebrates.  However, most Sierra rivers have impaired water quality and almost two-thirds of the region’s 67 aquatic habitat types are declining in quality and abundance.

Although powerful tools exist for land conservation including land use regulation, zoning, conservation easements, public ownership, and out-right purchase of key parcels, conservation tools for aquatic systems are lagging.

American Rivers, Natural Heritage Institute, Sierra Nevada Alliance, and several local watershed organizations and stakeholders initiated an effort to improve water quality and increase aquatic function and biodiversity in the Sierra Nevada Region through implementation of the Sierra Water Trust Project. The overarching objectives of the project were to build the capacity of Sierra-based organizations to use water rights acquisition as a tool for stream restoration; improve capacity of Sierra organizations to examine watershed problems in a broader hydrologic context; and facilitate the use of river science in monitoring and managing water availability and use in Sierra streams.

This program was made possible with financial assistance provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Targeted Watershed Program, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and the Compton Foundation with matching funds and in-kind assistance provided by project partners.


 Water Dedications

Stream Flow

Be Water Wise
18″ x 24″ Poster

Additional Resources

Water Trusts

Stream Flow Data & Resources

Water Transfers and Acquisitions in California

Methods for Determining Instream Flow Need

General Instream Flow Resources