Buchanan Dam was constructed in 1975 and is operated and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The maximum capacity of the dam is 150,000 acre-feet and has a maximum conservation capacity of 140,000 acre-feet. Average natural flows from 1912 to 2008 at Buchanan Dam were 70,107 acre-feet. The District has been able to take delivery of about 43,000 acre-feet annually from the dam. The remaining 27,000 acre-feet have been released as flood flows from the dam. Although Buchanan Dam is operated and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers it has been incorporated into the Central Valley Project. Chowchilla Water District has contracted with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the water supply developed by Buchanan Dam. The contract provides for CWD to pay the Bureau of Reclamation for 24,000 acre-feet of water from Buchanan Dam each year.
Chowchilla Water District also has appropriative water rights issued by the State Water Resources Control Board to divert water from the Chowchilla River. These water rights are senior to the Bureau of Reclamations appropriative water rights issued for storage of water in Buchanan Dam.
The Madera Canal supplies water from Friant Dam to the Chowchilla Water District. The District has contracted with the Bureau of Reclamation for 55,000 acre-feet of Class 1 Water and 160,000 acre-feet of Class 2 Water. Class 1 Water is a more dependable supply than Class 2 Water. Because of the nature of Friant water supplies, annual District water supplies have ranged from a low of 11,000 to as much as 215,000. The most recent 25-year District average annual water supply from Madera Canal is 90,187 acre-feet.