California's Central Valley

The Central Valley: Sacramento Valley

Map of the Scaramento Valley


The 1995 population of the Sacramento Valley was 2.4 million (California Department of Water Resources, 2003).

Major Cities

Sacramento, Redding

Geographic Features

Sutter Buttes, a volcanic remnant in the south-central part of the Sacramento Valley, and the Sacramento, Feather, Yuba, Bear, and American Rivers


The Sacramento Valley has mild winters and hot, dry summers.

Land Use

The natural levees that border the Sacramento-Feather River system create backwater basins of heavy clay soils that sustain rice farms and duck clubs. Truck, field, orchard, and rice crops are grown on approximately 2.1 million acres; rice represents about 23% of the total acreage (California Department of Water Resources, 2003).

Water Use

Depending on location, agriculture in the Sacramento Valley relies on a variable combination of surface water and groundwater. Groundwater accounts for less than 30% of the annual supply used for agricultural and urban purposes in this area. The Sacramento Valley, generally rich in surface water, provides water for much of California's urban and agricultural needs (California Department of Water Resources, 2003).

The Central Valley

Delta & Eastside Streams

Sacramento Valley

San Joaquin Basin

Tulare Basin

Valley Facts

  • More than 250 different crops are grown in the Central Valley with an estimated value of $17 billion per year
  • Approximately 75% of the irrigated land in California and 17% of the Nation's irrigated land is in the Central Valley
  • Using fewer than 1% of U.S. farmland, the Central Valley supplies 8% of U.S. agricultural output (by value) and produces 1/4 of the Nation's food, including 40% of the Nation's fruits, nuts, and other table foods.
  • The predominate crop types are cereal grains, hay, cotton, tomatoes, vegetables, citrus, tree fruits, nuts, table grapes, and wine grapes.
  • About 20% of the Nation's groundwater demand is supplied from pumping Central Valley aquifers, making it the second-most-pumped aquifer system in the U.S.
  • The Central Valley is one of the more notable structural depressions in the world.