The California Water
P.O. Box 5462, Santa Barbara, CA 93150
July 19, 2004
Contact: Dorothy Green, 310-270-4151,
California’s water, both
ground and surface, is a public resource subject to various
private use rights. The public nature of the resource has
been frequently ignored in public decision making. Major
river systems have been dried up for private benefit causing
tragedies for public trust resources such as fish. Water
is held in the public trust for the access and enjoyment
of all the people.
Major delivery systems have been built with public money
around the state to deliver water from where it is deemed
to be surplus to areas of exuberant growth. However,
some critically important water delivery systems cannot
the amounts of water promised in part because of increasing
concern over water quality, habitat and endangered species
protection. Yet the population of the state continues
to grow, putting more pressure on our limited water
to serve this population. The solution promoted by the
water industry is to pump more water which only exacerbates
environmental and water quality problems while ignoring
reasonable solutions based on greater efficiency of use.
There is growing evidence that we can meet the needs
of the state, which include population growth, habitat
wildlife restoration, by using water much more efficiently
than we do at present. To accomplish this goal, we
propose these Principles for a Sustainable Water Future
These principles outline what is needed to achieve
a comprehensive, holistic, integrated, and sustainable
water policy for
This is a work in process. All ideas regarding this
proposal are welcome.
1. The Public Trust Doctrine. The public trust doctrine
is insufficiently recognized in decisions on how
best to allocate water to serve all of the public’s needs
for access and enjoyment. Very high priority must be given
to the public trust doctrine in future water allocation
2. Right to Water. Every person in California must
be assured the minimum amount of high quality
life at an affordable price. Additional water
consumed should cost more
3. Open Public Process. The public, as owners
water resources, must have the determining role in the
development and adoption of any statewide water policy.
The process must be open, transparent and accountable,
and include the active involvement of all sectors of California’s
4. Water Management. The comprehensive water
management of state and regional water supplies
is best achieved
through agency cooperation and coordination.
To that end, we support
restructuring water administration by eliminating
or combining, to the extent feasible, agencies
within the same watershed.
5. Area of Origin. The areas that are water
rich, the areas of origin in northern California,
that these areas can grow and maintain
flows as required by state law.
6. Ecosystem Restoration. Our rivers, streams
and estuaries have become so degraded
by water projects
of instream flows and the ecosystems
dependent on these flows must occur. Whenever the place
of use or the purpose
of use of diverted water changes, the
that some portion of the
water in question be devoted to the restoration of degraded
eco-systems. At least one third of all the water saved
by conservation and reuse must be dedicated
to fish and stream restorations, and to restoring overdrafted
7. Local Supplies. Local water supplies,
which usually are the most dependable,
and most drought
resistant resources available to a
local community, must be carefully managed
and protected for sustainable use by
8. Conservation. Conservation is constitutionally
mandated and often is the least environmentally
damaging way of achieving efficiency
prohibition against waste must be fully implemented.
9. Reuse. Reuse of highly treated wastewater must be
encouraged for a wide variety of uses including potable
cleaned to near
and then most of it is thrown away.
10. Watershed Management. Watershed management plans
shall be developed to maximize coordination of all
government agencies and the public
to achieve multiple benefits,
including but not limited to capturing stormwater where
recharging the groundwater, improving water quality,
restoring wildlife habitat.
The beneficiaries of exported water shall be required
to invest in watershed restoration.
11. Groundwater Management. The groundwater and surface
water within a basin or watershed are typically inextricably
must be managed using whole system management approaches.
In order to protect
flows and terrestrial habitat, controls on overdraft
should be instituted immediately. Ultimately, means
reduce or eliminate
12. Water Quality. All water quality standards must
be clear, publicized, and enforced. Enforcing water
sufficient flows through rivers, streams and estuaries
to ensure ecosystem health.
13. Sustainable Agriculture. Sustainable agricultural
land must be preserved. As ag land goes out of
and other factors, water should be returned to
14. Innovation. All water users should be encouraged
to be more creative and to find ways to benefit
or other subsidies
should be redirected to save minimally 10%
of farm land for riparian habitat.
15. Good Science. Computer models used to project
water supplies, both surface and groundwater
must be publicly
be predictable, accurate, transparent
and accessible on the Internet. They must
be subjected to peer review and truly reflect
of the state.