When asked what a newcomer should know about California, noted western writer Wallace Stegner answered with four words:
“Water. It’s about water.”
California's Water- A Common Bond
California’s farmers and consumers share a common bond when it comes to our water supply.
We are all bound by the limits of what nature provides, but by deliberately improving how we store, move, and manage our water, Californians can limit drought, minimize flooding, grow our economy, protect the environment, and prepare our state for future generations.
When it comes to water supply, farmers and consumers are on the same side of the table.
We All Share California's Water Supply
California's constitution holds our water in trust for all the people of the state, no matter where in the state you are.
The State issues permits to use water for a specific place and time. The same water may be recycled and a new permit issued for the same water several times. This sometimes confuses people into believing the State issues more permits than there is water.
California moves water from places of abundance to places of scarcity, and stores water from periods of plenty to periods of shortage using networks of reservoirs, pumps and canals. Much of this complex water infrastructure is more than 50 years old.
Learn more about the water infrastructure we rely on.
Californians Need Reliable Water
Consumers depend on clean, reliable supplies of water for domestic needs including cooking, cleaning, drinking and bathing.
Farmers use water to grow the crops that feed and clothe us. Our farmers grow more than 400 food, fiber and nursery crops, 14 of which are grown exclusively in California.
It is the same water supply reliability that consumers depend on that helps farmers grow the wide variety of foods we find at the grocery store, when supplies are interrupted by our broken water system, we are all at risk.
California's Water Infrastructure
California's network of reservoirs, canals, and pumping stations form the backbone of our water supply system.
Much of California’s water supply system was designed and built more than 50 years ago. Over the years California’s population has grown and the system that was designed to provide water to 20 million people simply can’t keep up with a population that is almost double that today.
In order to meet our future needs California must invest in additional conservation and recycling as well as new supplies that can be stored in reservoirs or groundwater aquifers and moved efficiently to parts of the state where they are needed.Learn more about California's water infrastructure.
Responsible Water Use
The state constitution reminds us that we share a responsibility to put water to beneficial uses. Growing food and fiber, providing jobs, protecting our communities- these are all recognized beneficial uses.
State law also requires that California's farms and cities plan carefully and manage water efficiently.
California's water suppliers measure and monitor water distribution carefully in order to maximize efficiency, eliminate waste, and protect our shared resources.
Learn more about how water is managed responsibly in California.