Current CAMPAIGN: the public trust doctrine

Who own’s the future of California’s water?


The California Constitution states that California's water belongs to the people. Mismanagement of public water is undermining the economic stability and well-being of California's communities and environment.

We now have the opportunity to change water policy for good.


Water belongs to the people and serves the needs of the public. 

As part of both the U.S. and California Constitutions, the Public Trust Doctrine mandates protection of natural resources for all people. Used successfully to save historic Mono Lake, enforcing the Public Trust Doctrine in the courts and educating the public on its power are key to sustainable water policy.

Successfully invoking the Public Trust Doctrine at upcoming State water agency hearings will compel policymakers to consider the needs of all water users — setting precedents that will positively impact communities around the world.


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 California Delta watershed serves the fresh water needs of over half of all Californians: 25 million people. Already over-subscribed, current plans to divert water from this critical watershed threaten the economic and environmental health of communities and an 1100 square mile ecosystem.

Governor Brown’s plan to divert water from the Delta to industrial farms in the San Joaquin Valley is a grave danger to the watershed.

Agriculture uses 80% of consumptive fresh water in California while contributing only 2% to California's economy. The nearly $70 billion cost of the “California Water Fix/Twin Tunnels Project” will fall to California ratepayers – who receive no new water.


The requirement of a detailed quantification of the entire watershed was introduced decades ago. Until now, no one has been willing to fund it.

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.

ECONorthwest will complete the first comprehensive valuation and analysis of the California Delta watershed. The assessment will show the impact of proposed Twin Tunnels project on the 25+ million stakeholders – communities, ratepayers, fisheries, agriculture, commerce and environment – that rely on this critical water source.

We're raising the $1.5 million it will cost to complete the assessment.

California could have enough fresh water for everyone if it were managed equitably. With this assessment, California’s policymakers and communities will have what they need to build the equitable and sustainable policies mandated by the Public Trust Doctrine.