Robert B. Marshall (1867-1949), whose career at the U.S.
Geological Survey culminated in 1908 when he became chief
geographer for the entire USGS, first proposed the concept of a
statewide water plan for a series of dams, canals and aqueducts
to bring water to California’s Central Valley.
Don McCrea was one of the founding members of the Water Education
Foundation and signed its original Articles of Incorporation in
His background was in power and energy issues, including
hydrology and the state’s hydrologic system, from a career at the
Pacific Gas & Electric Company in San Francisco. He was involved
in the development of the State Water Project as a proponent of
the value of hydroelectricity.
Lake Mead is the main reservoir formed by Hoover Dam in Southern Nevada.
Created in the 1930s as part of Hoover Dam [see also Elwood Mead], Lake Mead provides
water storage in the Lower Basin of the Colorado River. The reservoir can
hold 28,945,000 acre-feet’s
capacity and at 248 square miles its capacity is the largest in
Most of the water in Lake Mead is drawn from Rocky Mountain
snowmelt and runoff.
Elwood Mead (1858-1936) was the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation during the era of the development of Hoover Dam on
the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada, Grand Coulee Dam
in Washington and Owyhee Dam in Oregon, among other large water
The Mexican Delta is located at the natural terminus of the
Colorado River at the Gulf of Mexico, just south of the
U.S.-Mexico border. The desert ecosystem was formed by silt
flushed downstream from the Colorado and fresh and brackish water
mixing at the Gulf.
The Mexican Delta once covered 9,650 square miles but has shrunk
to less than 1 percent of its original size due to man-made water
The Mexican Water Treaty of 1944 committed the U.S. to deliver
1.5 million acre-feet of water to Mexico on an annual basis, plus
an additional 200,000 acre-feet under surplus conditions. The
treaty is overseen by the International Boundary and Water
Colorado River water is delivered to Mexico at Morelos Dam,
located 1.1 miles downstream from where the California-Baja
California land boundary intersects the river between the town of
Los Algodones in northwestern Mexico and Yuma County, Ariz.
Microplastics – plastic debris measuring less than 5 millimeters
– are an
increasing water quality concern. Entering the water as
industrial microbeads or as larger plastic litter that degrade
into small pellets, microplastics come from a variety of
Flowing into the heart of the Mojave Desert, the Mojave River
exists mostly underground. Surface channels are usually dry
absent occasional groundwater surfacing and flooding
from extreme weather events like El Niño.
Mono Lake is an inland sea located east of Yosemite National Park
near the Nevada border. It became the focus of a major
environmental battle from the 1970s to the 1990s.
The lake has a surface area of about 70 square miles and is the
second largest lake in California and one of the oldest in North
America. Its salty waters occupy former volcanic craters. The old
volcanoes contribute to the geology of the lake basin, which
includes sulfates, salt and carbonates.
The Monterey Amendment, a 1994 pact between Department of Water
Resources and State Water Project contractors, helped ease
environmental stresses on the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta.
As part of large-scale restructuring of water supply contracts,
the Monterey Amendment allowed for storage of excess flows during
wet years in groundwater banks and surface storage reservoir.
This stored water could then be used later during dry periods or
to help the Delta.
John Muir (1838-1914) was a famous and influential naturalist and
conservationist who founded the Sierra Club in 1892 and was its
president until he died. Throughout his life, this man from
Scotland was also a farmer, inventor, sheepherder, explorer and
William Mulholland (1855-1935), an immigrant from Ireland, is
infamous in the history of California water and the state’s water
wars for both his far-sightedness and no-holds-barred approach to
delivering a controversial water supply to Southern California.
He is a love-hate character with a story that has many tellings,
including in the 1974 fictional movie, Chinatown.