Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Dilara Uskup

Reader 2

Heather Williams

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© 2018 Casey Harris


As drought becomes more common in California, effective water management has become one of the state’s most critical policy issues. During the drought of 2011-2017 specifically, the state government faced significant legal and political barriers in its attempts to implement sweeping, statewide drought management policy. First, the California water rights system prevents the state from legally curtailing the water diversions of senior water rights holders. Because of this, the State Water Resources Control Board has been engaged in ongoing litigation with senior and junior water rights holders alike over their attempts to curtail water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta during the drought. Second, the Board faced local resistance to the 25% conservation order mandated in Executive Order B-29-15 due to concerns over state intervention in local issues and a disregard for the doctrine of first in time, first in right. Finally, the state passed the sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014 in order to address California’s overused and under-regulated groundwater supply. While a step in the right direction, the implementation timeline of this policy is not urgent enough to protect aquifers from overdraft and saltwater intrusion. These barriers all made developing and implementing effective drought policy extremely difficult. While Executive Order B-29-15 and the curtailment notices were not meant to be permanent solutions to the drought problem, they now need to be replaced with a comprehensive package of legislation that addresses a myriad of competing interests and environmental realities.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.