Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Second Department


Reader 1

Bowman Cutter

Reader 2

Char Miller

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© 2016 Frank C. Lyles


Groundwater has been very important to the economic development of Southern California, and will continue to be a crucial resource in the 21st century. However, Climate Change threatens to disrupt many of the physical and economic processes that control the flow of water in and out of aquifers. One groundwater manager, the Six Basins Watermaster in eastern Los Angeles and western San Bernardino Counties, has developed a long-term planning document called the Strategic Plan that mostly fails to address the implications of Climate Change, especially for local water supplies. This thesis presents an in-depth analysis of the Six Basin Watermaster’s Strategic Plan as a case-study of how groundwater managers can improve their planning assumptions to better prepare for Climate Change. It begins with a brief history of how Southern California’s environment influenced the development of the institutions that manage the Six Basins’ groundwater, then provides a physical description of the aquifer itself. The current scientific literature on Climate Change’s expected impacts on California water supplies are summarized, and the implications of these impacts for basin management are highlighted. The Strategic Plan’s projects are evaluated and critiqued in light of these insights, including a need for the Strategic Plan to: explicitly consider Climate Change in its planning assumptions, use decision-making frameworks that account for uncertainty, and prepare for more frequent droughts and floods in the future. Climate Change will have important effects on how Southern California’s groundwater is managed, and the Six Basins Strategic Plan should be revised to better account for these impacts.