Managing Water: Avoiding Crisis in California

Managing Water: Avoiding Crisis in California

Managing Water: Avoiding Crisis in California

Managing Water: Avoiding Crisis in California


Water in California is controlled, stored, delivered, and managed within a complex network of interlocking and cooperating districts and agencies. Unraveling and understanding this system is not easy. This book describes how the current system works (or doesn't work) and discusses the issues that face elected officials, water and resource managers, and the general public. Using the Los Angeles area as a microcosm of the state, environmental activist Dorothy Green gathers detailed information on its water systems and applies the lessons learned from this data statewide. A useful primer on watershed and water policy issues, this book provides reasoned, thoughtful, and insightful arguments about sustainability.


[We found] a delightful place among the trees on the river.
There are all the requisites for a large settlement.

FR. JUAN CRESPI, August 2, 1769

About all that can definitely be said about the rainfall of
Southern California is that it is meager and unpredictable.

ALFRED CLARK, War Over the San Gabriels

The story of the state and especially of the Los Angeles area is the story of water. Since its founding as a Spanish pueblo in 1781, Los Angeles has engaged in a relentless pursuit for more water, even before it was needed, in support of its ever-growing population and economy. Water and the growth that it supports have been the driving forces behind the development of this semiarid land, for land without water is worth little, and land with water is worth a great deal. It is only because of the foresight and hard work of the visionaries who were responsible for local development (and prospered because of it) that a population of almost 10 million people now lives in an area that could never adequately sustain a population greater than 1 million with its own local water resources.

In this book, the term Los Angeles Area refers not to the city of Los Angeles, but to most of Los Angeles County, the part that lies south of the San Gabriel Mountains. It includes the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers watershed and the small coastal watersheds from Palos Verdes to the Santa Monica Mountains that drain to the Santa Monica Bay. Since the county is home to about a third of the state’s population, the Los Angeles area must then be home to about 30%.

The same forces that developed the Southland also drove water development over most of the state, leading to the growth of many of its other cities and the growth of an incredible agricultural industry that has . . .

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