Planning Water Use In California

William Eisenstein and G. Mathias Kondolf

As California's population grows, so will its demand for a full range of infrastructure and services. An efficient transportation system, for example, is crucial for the state’s economy and people. So is a system for storing water and moving it to where it’s needed. Water is a perennial problem in California, but it is not the problem most people think it is. Viewed strictly as a matter of quantity, California does not have a water shortage, nor will it anytime soon. The state’s water is plentiful, but it is inconvenient for human use; distributed unevenly across time and space, it is rarely where we want it when we want it. About three quarters of the potential water supply in the state of California originates north of the city of Sacramento, while about three quarters of the demand is south of the city. During flood times, the state’s most pressing water problem is getting rid of it, while in dry times the problem lies in storing and moving it.

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