For a New Culture of Water in California

Thirty-eight compressed pages, with a clear, concise text, along with eye-catching tables, charts, photos, a glossary and a bibliography, the report was written by Juliet Christian-Smith and Kristyn Abhold with inputs from academics, hydrologists and environmentalists from all across the state who took part in a series of roundtable discussions in June and July 2015.

“Measuring What Matters” throws down a gauntlet. From now on, no reading, thinking citizen will be able to beg ignorance when it comes to the future of water in California. While the report might be too technical for the average water user – the authors use words such as “stochastic” and concepts like baselines and thresholds – it provides food for thought for everyone who cares about water in California. The report is available online here.

“We are facing some of the hottest and driest conditions on record,” Christian-Smith and Abhold write near the conclusion of their report. “Sustainable groundwater management offers a new pathway that will allow the state both to mitigate and to adapt to climate change while also increasing water reliability in the future.”

A climate scientist who grew up in Boston and who moved to California in 2001, Juliet Christian-Smith has already lived through two major droughts. A dogged researcher and the editor of the journal, Sustainability Science, she also ventures into fields and talks to farmers as well as hydrologists. As the lead author of “Measuring What Matters” and a long-time student of crisis and resilience, she’s perhaps the ideal expert to talk about drought, ground water, and the politics of H20.

Q: Congratulations on the completion of the report “Measuring What Matters.” It seems like a landmark document in the story of California water.
A: Thank you. We’ve been briefing state agencies. I’ve —> Read More