The New California Water Atlas

Making water understandable in California

Community Guidelines

This is what we are doing

  • Improving open data
  • Building community & sharing methods
  • Creating high-end, legible visualizations
  • Sharing open source code
  • Adopting radically inclusive & equitable ways of working
  • Building a public work for Californians
  • Incorporating science and encouraging accuracy
  • Seeking peer-reviews
  • Including historical data
  • Healing damages of the past
  • Working for the future

This is how we are doing it

  • Open collaboration platform
  • Transparent process
  • Non-violent communication
  • Community Outreach
  • Teaching each other
  • Collaborating with government
  • Blogging
  • Hosting Workshops & Events
  • Getting advisors
  • Organizing community events in places with compromised water health
  • Creating a space for innovative collaboration

If you have suggestions on how we can work together better, please let us know. You may also contact us privately.


I'm looking for an official description of water in California.

The California Water Atlas, published in 1979, is a baseline available on the web.

A Document published by the Yuba County Water Agency has a short description of the state water budget. I haven't been able to find it on the YCWA website. I believe YCWA quotes the California Water Atlas.

A project titled "The New California Water Atlas" is described at:

Contact for the new atlas is:

I don't know who sponsors the new atlas. Maybe NCWA?

DWR publishes the Urban Levee Design Criteria. Is there a companion document for agriculture levee design? Or bypass levee design?

Maury Roos has written several descriptions of California water, flood history from an engineering view. I don't know the status of his writings in regard to policy decisions. I believe Mr. Roos testifies as an expert witness on water internationally..

Dr. Fovell has studied rainfall and long range prediction. Does any of Dr. Fovell's work qualify as official information for expected river flow in a watershed? If not Dr. Fovell, who is the expert on forecasting for flood control? Fleet Numerical Weather Facility? NOAA? My belief is that no one knows how much water is going to flow down a river, how fast the river will rise and how fast the river will subside. Europeans come close to describing and controlling flow on the Loire River and a few German Rivers.

The reason I'm looking for a description of California Water is a baseline for discussion on water issues. Discussions seem to be baselined to the day before yesterday and addresses only one point of view. A point of view that supports a specific agenda while ignoring other points of view. People in the audience seem to self select. They hear only one point of view. The view that they support.

Most noticeable by its absence is fish habitat. Noticeable by its absence is policy statements regarding value added by alternate land use. Upstream landowners seem to be compensated only for the market value at time of condemnation. Should the upstream bypasses be compensated for stewardship that precludes downstream flooding? Is the opinion that "they (whoever they is) are stealing our water" based on fact? Are downstream landowners benefiting and not compensating upstream landowners for efforts to prevent downstream flooding?

The topics being discussed at water meetings discuss only one aspect and ignore all other aspects, in my opinion. A recent meeting on levee protection for District 10 in Yuba County quoted a design water level but did not explain the source used to determine the water height. I heard one speaker say something on the order of 265,000 cubic feet per second on the Yuba River. How was that number decided? HUC watershed and NOAA anticipated rainfall estimates?

Part of the discussion I expected to hear was upstream control. Upstream control was not addressed. Nor was there discussion regarding adjoining jurisdictions. I would have expected at least a few comments on what commitment is made to downstream flow. In terms of maximum flow, rate of increase and rate of decrease of water flow.

That discussion would influence levee design. Which side of the river has the most valuable property? Why don't levees have downstream notches to control which side gets the water when design level is exceeded? Why isn't there a notch level in the levee to direct flow into the lowest part of the adjacent basin to ensure slow rise as opposed to random breakage with unknown velocity?

I hear conflicting definitions of ground water. What is the official definition?

My interest is based on lessons learned from the Dayton, OH flood of Easter, 1913.

I would think the Governor's Office of Planning Research would have a policy statement regarding land use and water control. Maybe there is such guidance, but I haven't found it. Land use in California seems to be vested in each County. Inundation areas from dam failure appears to have different controls from county to county.


I am thrilled to find your project! I am a landscape designer in L.A. and am interested in water conservation and especially in informing the community about the realities of water in California. I would love to find out more about your project and getting involved.

Thank you

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