Where does California’s water come from? Most of us remember learning the water cycle, and so can understand easily enough that it’s the rain and snow that is the ultimate source of our water supply. But what most Californians might not realize is vast the state’s water infrastructure is that irrigates the farmland and delivers the water to our faucets, and how profoundly that infrastructure has remade the California that we know today.
Groundwater in California has received a lot of attention lately, and for good reason: We use a lot of it. So much so, California has been identified as the heaviest groundwater user in the United States, with approximately 16% of the nation’s groundwater supplies being extracted from the state’s aquifers.
Whether you have no idea what or where the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is or you work in Delta-related science or policy and want to take a moment to step back and look at this system anew, this was written for you.
This presentation will begin with the basics of what the Delta is, where it is, and why it’s important. Following that are sections on its history, its people, and the animals and plants as well as some of the environmental challenges and how agencies and managers are trying to manage them.
This Guide was created by Heidi Williams as fulfillment of a California Sea Grant fellowship at the Delta Stewardship Council.
Currently, there are three major planning processes focused exclusively on the Delta, two broader statewide plans, and multitudes of smaller plans and programs that affect the Delta in some way. Some plans are in the implementation stage while others are still in the planning stages. What are all these different plans and processes?
California water law is a complex subject. It is governed by both state and federal law, and is part property law and part environmental law. This topic has important historical roots, based in common law concepts of private rights to water, but is now dominated by federal legislation aimed at achieving environmental purposes. Adding to this complexity is the existence of a large number of federal, state and local agencies which play a role in the allocation and management of the state’s water resources.
This research guide, written by Tobe Liebert, explains the basic concepts a researcher needs in order to begin understanding the current legal regime that controls the water of California. The guide covers a wide variety of resources, both print and online, some of which are freely available but others only through paid subscriptions. The greater emphasis is on California statutes, cases and regulations, but the secondary sources discussed will provide the necessary explanation of how federal law applies.
More reliable water supplies for California: Building a diverse regional water supply portfolio
While there are many factors impacting the state’s water supplies, the good news is there are many actions that can be taken. The key is in building a diverse portfolio of water supplies that minimizes potential impacts and increases supply reliability under a variety of operational and hydrologic conditions.
California’s modern history is written in gold mining, railroads, and most recently, the development of water.
Two massive water projects as well as several smaller systems have been built to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and to slake the thirst of growing population centers of Southern California and the Bay Area; this in turn has fueled California’s trillion dollar economy, making it the sixth largest in the world, the nation’s most populous state, and the leading agricultural producer and exporter of agricultural goods.
However, California now faces monumental challenges in meeting the water demand of its residents, industries, and agricultural producers.
Solutions and strategies for managing California’s most precious resource, such as urban and agricultural water use efficiency, groundwater cleanup, system reoperation, desalination, water transfers, and more …
A compilation of maps, diagrams and photos related to the Delta and California water that have been sourced from public documents and public sources. Historical photographs are from the National Archives/Library of Congress and WikiMedia. No known copyright restrictions exist.