Where does my water come from?

The Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) relies on four sources of water to provide service to its customers: groundwater, recycled water, imported water from the State Water Project and the Colorado River via the Coachella Canal, a branch of the All-American Canal.

Local Sources of Water

All drinking or domestic water provided by CVWD comes from the groundwater basin, a source usually referred to as the aquifer. The Coachella Valley’s groundwater basin can be imagined as a tilted bathtub filled with sand and gravel and topped with a layer of clay; water fills the spaces under the clay and in between the sand and gravel. Wells approximately 1,200 feet deep reach the highest quality water within the aquifer. Pumps push the water up to 1 of 63 distribution reservoirs. Water is then delivered to customers via 2,015 miles of distribution piping.

CVWD provides drinking water to most of the Coachella Valley (PDF). The remaining residents and businesses mostly receive their drinking water from Desert Water Agency, Mission Springs Water District, City of Coachella, Indio Water Authority or Myoma Dunes Water Company. Nevertheless, nearly all drinking water in the Coachella Valley is pumped from the groundwater basin.

A crucial component of effective water management is developing alternatives to groundwater use for non-potable uses such as outdoor irrigation. For this reason, the District works closely with local golf course superintendents, landscape professionals and large property owners to maximize their water efficiency. More than a dozen golf courses, homeowner associations and a local school irrigate with recycled water.

Imported Sources of Water

Water for agricultural irrigation primarily comes from the Colorado River. It is delivered to local farms via the 123-mile Coachella Canal. A quarter to a third of farm irrigation water is groundwater, pumped from privately owned wells.

In addition to local farms, 36 golf courses within the Coachella Valley Water District use imported water from the Coachella Canal to supplement their groundwater use.

CVWD also uses imported Colorado River water and State Water Project water exchanged for Colorado River water to artificially replenish the aquifer at 4 sites throughout the Coachella Valley. Replenishing with imported water supplements natural groundwater replenishment from rain and melted snow.


Prior to the Coachella Canal's completion in 1948, imported water was not available to the Coachella Valley. The first water deliveries took place in 1949.

In the 1960s CVWD and Desert Water Agency became State Water Project contractors. Together, the 2 agencies use their entitlement to the State Water Project to replenish the western Coachella Valley’s aquifer at the Whitewater Spreading Area, the valley’s largest groundwater recharge facility. The combined entitlement is the third largest among state water project contractors.

Since 1973, the districts have replenished more than 3.6 million acre-feet of imported water at this site. Previously, the Water District relied on rain and snowmelt from nearby mountains to naturally replenish the aquifer at the location.