Overview LeeAnn Salerno

South County Ag Program
Recycled Water for Crop Irrigation, Groundwater and Habitat Restoration, and Regional Sustainability

Regional San, in collaboration with regional stakeholders, is developing the South Sacramento County Agriculture & Habitat Lands Recycled Water Program (South County Ag Program). The South County Ag Program would offer multiple benefits, including providing a safe and reliable supply of tertiary-treated water for agricultural uses, reducing groundwater pumping, supporting habitat restoration efforts, and providing near-term benefits to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The South County Ag Program is an exceptional opportunity to proactively restore and manage groundwater, while improving stream flows in the lower Cosumnes River, enhancing riparian habitats and wetlands, sustaining prime agricultural lands, and improving regional water supply reliability. The Program is being developed by Regional San and has the potential to deliver up to 50,000 acre-feet per year (AFY) of drought-resistant recycled water to irrigate more than 16,000 acres of permanent agriculture and habitat conservation lands near the Cosumnes River and Stone Lakes Wildlife Refuge. Essentially, this recycled water would be used in-lieu of pumping groundwater. Additionally, the Program proposes to implement wintertime irrigation and wildlife-friendly recharge basins in the project area where the soils are suitable, to provide further groundwater recharge.

The California Water Commission announced that Regional San will receive up to $280.5 million in Proposition 1 grant funding through the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) to help make the South County Ag Program a reality for the Sacramento region. The WSIP funding was awarded based on the public benefits expected as a result of the Program.

Next steps include continuing planning efforts with local farmers and beginning preliminary designs for transmission and distribution systems to convey recycled water from the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant near Elk Grove to agricultural lands in southern Sacramento county.

Costs and Funding

The costs to implement the South County Ag Program are currently estimated at approximately $300 million, encompassing planning, design, and capital costs. The California Water Commission recently announced that Regional San will receive up to $280.5 million in Proposition 1 grant funding through the Water Storage Investment Program. 

Project Benefits

The South County Ag Program offers numerous benefits:

  • Increases regional and state water supply reliability through groundwater storage and conjunctive use.
  • Provides up to 50,000 acre feet per year of recycled water to irrigate up to 16,000 acres of agricultural lands.
  • Improves water quality by restoring groundwater levels and increasing in-stream flows in the Cosumnes River.
  • Restores depleted groundwater levels up to 35 feet within 15 years and helps achieve compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
  • Increases groundwater storage capacity by approximately 245,000 acre-feet within 10 years, and approximately 450,000 acre-feet in 40 years.
  • Supports and increases riparian and wetland conditions on over 5,000 acres.
  • Supports a variety of threatened species, such as Swainson’s Hawk, Sandhill Cranes and Giant Garter Snake.
  • Increases frequency of Cosumnes River instream flows to support fall-run Chinook Salmon.
  • Supports the State and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation goals for increased use of recycled water
  • Provides reliable agricultural water supplies, enhanced groundwater storage opportunities, and drought resiliency


Regional San has worked extensively with our environmental, agricultural, and water supply partners including:

  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Local farmers
  • Sierra Club
  • City of Elk Grove
  • County of Sacramento
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Environmental Defense Fund
  • Regional Water Authority
  • League of Women Voters
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk
  • Sacramento Area Creeks Council
  • Sacramento County Farm Bureau
  • Sacramento County Water Agency
  • Southgate Recreation & Park District
  • Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
  • Sacramento Water Recycling Coalition
  • Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority
  • Federal and state legislative members


Questions? Contact Us!

We encourage you to check back for updated program information. If you would like to contact someone regarding the project, please call (916) 876-3322 or email