Editor’s Note: California’s Coast Only Part of the Picture

Jennifer Bowles Often times on my Facebook feed, someone will post a map of California sitting beside a huge ocean with the word, “Duh,” scrawled across the water. The idea that California can dig itself out of the drought simply by building desalination plants up and down the coast may, at first glance, seem like an obvious choice.

But if you look deeper you will see that it’s not realistic. To build enough desal plants to quench the state’s thirst, we’d have to build a lot of plants. For a state where the residents love their coastline, that might be a stretch. Secondly, there are drawbacks to ocean desal, including environmental impacts on marine life and the amount of energy and money it takes to run the plants. And, important to note, a desal plant can only generate so much fresh water at a time.

But it is certainly a technology worth investing in some places as a supplemental supply. The idea to look deep into this topic and its realistic future in California came with the much-anticipated opening of the desalination plant in Carlsbad in December. We will be visiting that plant during our San Diego tour on May 19-20. Check out for more information and to sign up.

As you flip through the pages of this issue of Western Water, you will notice it looks a bit different. We have revamped the magazine for 2016 as we transform it to a quarterly publication. We’ve included profiles on alums of our popular Water Leaders program so we can see where they’ve gone in their careers and what they learned while they were with us. And we’ve added a “sense of place” highlighting places key to California water – some well-known, others more obscure but just as important.

In 1979, Rita Schmidt Sudman, the Foundation’s former executive director, wrote her first article for Western Water called “Battle for Waters of Mono Lake.” After years of observing the California water scene, Sudman found she had more to say after she left the Foundation in 2014. She has recently coauthored a new book, Water: More or Less, with artist and essayist Stephanie Taylor. The book captures historic water conflicts, moments of change and offers solutions for the future. Twenty diverse top water policy leaders, including yours truly, also add their voices by contributing personal thoughts and answers for the future.

You can buy autographed copies on the Foundation website at www.water

Enjoy our revamped magazine and let us know if you like it.



                                            – Jennifer Bowles

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