together we can change water policy in california for good

It starts with quantification and a comprehensive analysis of the economic and environmental impacts of proposed infrastructure projects.


It’s impossible to manage water if you don’t know how much there is. Quantifying the Delta watershed and analyzing the impacts of different use scenarios is the data needed for good public policy.

The following interest areas cover our strategy to achieve equitable and sustainable water policy in California.


Water that exists as water rights claims in legal documents but not in the real world is known as "Paper Water".

State water agencies in California and those participating in the Colorado River Compact continue to issue water service contracts at levels far beyond available water resources. Paper Water is the primary cause of inequitable distribution, exorbitant fees for ratepayers and the decline of ecosystems and fisheries.

By exposing the devastating effects of Paper Water on communities and ecosystems throughout California, C-WIN is working to eliminate Paper Water for good.

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The Public Trust Doctrine asserts that the state holds natural resources “in trust” for use by the public. The Public Trust Doctrine requires policymakers to assess all impacts of any project using our natural resources:

"No water…can be taken from a stream, lake or other natural resource without a careful assessment of the harm that might be done.”

The Public Trust Doctrine was the heart of the argument in the case that saved Mono Lake. The 1983 ruling National Audubon Society v. Superior Court established protection of the lake as a public trust and forced the Department of Water Resources to reduce diversion flows to ecologically sustainable levels:

The State should "attempt, so far as feasible, to avoid or minimize any harm to those [public trust] interests."

C-WIN and our partners will argue in court to uphold the Public Trust Doctrine and protect the California Delta for all Californians who rely on this important natural resource.

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More than half of all Californians rely on a single source for fresh water. The California Delta watershed is:

• California's largest single source of fresh water.
• The largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas.
• Nearly half the total river flow in the entire state.
• Among the largest water delivery systems on earth.
• Home to 750 distinct species of plants and animals.

Without quantification of the water in the Delta, allocation targets cannot be set and no project that diverts that water can move forward legally.

C-WIN is partnering with ECONorthwest (best known for their successes in the BP Oil Spill and the Exxon Valdez cases) to perform the assessment mandated by the Public Trust Doctrine.

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