Principles for a Sustainable Water Future

Download the Principles in portable document format (PDF). 

Left to right: Delta Mendota Canal, California Aqueduct, and Interstate 5.

I-5 and Canals SJValleyDWRb&w.jpg
Photo courtesy of California Department of Water Resources.

Please review C-WIN's Principles for a Sustainable Water Future. You may also send us comments, additions, or corrections.


California’s water is a public resource subject to private rights to its use. The State is required by law to protect the public trust in California’s water for the access and enjoyment of all. Unfortunately, the public nature of water is frequently ignored in public decision-making. Major river systems such as the San Joaquin River have been degraded for private benefit, tragically ruining public trust resources.

Major water projects have been built with public money to deliver water from where it is deemed to be in surplus to areas of uncontrolled growth. However, some critical water systems cannot deliver water as promised because of increasing concern over water quality, habitat and endangered species protection. Yet California continues to grow, putting more pressure on our limited water supplies. The solution promoted by the water industry is to pump more groundwater and build more reservoirs and canals, strategies which only exacerbate environmental and water quality problems. Reasonable solutions based on greater efficiency of use have been ignored.

We can meet the needs of the state, including population growth, habitat and wildlife restoration, by using water much more efficiently than we do at present. To accomplish this goal, the California Water Impact Network proposes a set of Principles for a Sustainable Water Future in California. These principles outline what is needed to achieve a comprehensive, holistic, integrated, and sustainable water policy for the State.


Water and the Public Interest