Pauline Davis (1917-1995), who
represented all or portions of 12 rural Northern California
counties in the California Assembly, guided some of the state’s
most significant water development proposals through the
During her legislative career from 1952 to 1976, Davis
concentrated on water issues important to her constituents by
championing area-of-origin protections for water targeted for
export as part of the fledgling State Water Project.
The Delta Plan is a comprehensive management plan for the
Joaquin Delta intended to help the state meet the coequal
goals of water reliability and ecosystem restoration.
Stewardship Council, which oversees the Delta Plan, adopted a
final version in May 2013 after three years of study and public
meetings. Once completed, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan could
be incorporated into the Delta Plan.
The Delta Pumping Plant Fish Protection Agreement stems from an
early effort to balance the needs of fish protection and State Water Project
operations. Negotiated in the mid-1980s, the agreement
foreshadowed future battles over fish protection and pumping.
[See also Sacramento-San Joaquin
Overseen by the California Department of Water Resources,
California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, the Delta Risk Management Strategy evaluated
the sustainability of the
Joaquin Delta and assessed major risks from floods, seepage,
subsidence and earthquakes, sea level rise and climate change.
The endangered Delta smelt is a 3-inch fish found only in the
Joaquin Delta. It is considered especially sensitive because
it lives just one year, has a limited diet and exists primarily
in brackish waters (a mix of river-fed fresh and salty ocean
water that is typically found in coastal estuaries).
The Delta Stewardship Council was created as an independent state
agency in 2009 to achieve California’s coequal goals for the
Joaquin Delta of providing a more reliable water supply for
the state and protecting, restoring and enhancing the Delta
Recurrent droughts and uncertainties about future water supplies
have led several California communities to look to treat salty
water for supplemental supplies through a process known as
Desalination removes salt and other dissolved minerals from water
and is one method to reclaim water for other uses. This can occur
with ocean water along the coast and in the interior at spots
that draw from ancient salt water deep under the surface or where
groundwater has been tainted
by too much salt.
With a holding capacity of more than 260 billion gallons, Diamond
Valley Lake is
Southern California’s largest reservoir. It sits about 90
miles southeast of Los Angeles and just west of Hemet in
Riverside County where it was built in 2000. The offstream
reservoir was created by three large dams that connect the surrounding
hills, costing around $1.9 billion and doubling the region’s
water storage capacity.
Joan Didion (1934-2021) was a native California author and
playwright whose famous writings have featured California water
Born and reared in Sacramento, she wrote extensively and
personally about her feelings on the subject of water. In her
memoir, Where I Was From, she told not only the story about her
pioneering family’s roots in the Sacramento area but also of the
seasonal flooding, the water politics and controversies, and the
California State Water Project (SWP) and federal Central Valley
Disadvantaged communities are
areas throughout California that are affected most by economic,
health and environmental burdens. These burdens include poverty,
high unemployment, increased risk of asthma and heart disease and
often limited access to safe and clean drinking water.
An estimated 1 million Californians are served by water systems
with unsafe drinking water, according to the State Water
Resources Control Board. In many of these communities, people
often buy bottled or filtered water to avoid drinking
contaminated tap water.
Drought—an extended period of
limited or no precipitation—is a fact of life in California and
the West, with water resources following boom-and-bust patterns.
During California’s 2012–2016 drought, much of the state
experienced severe drought conditions: significantly less
precipitation and snowpack, reduced streamflow and higher
temperatures. Those same conditions reappeared early in 2021
prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom in May to declare drought emergencies
in watersheds across 41 counties in California.