Water and Land Use
Planning Wisely For California's Future

By Karen Johnson and Jeff Loux

  • Item# WL
  • ISBN: 923956-78-6
  • Copyright (c) 2004
  • Paperback
  • Price: $50.00
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First complete guide to address the increasingly important link between land use planning in California and the availability of water. Summarizes key statutes, governmental policies and requirements, and current practices. Presents methods for evaluating demand, supply, reliability, and quality, and for meeting legislative requirements for linking water supplies and land use decisions.

Planning Wisely For California's Future
by Karen E. Johnson and Jeff Loux

In addition to the information provided below you may also:
See the Front and Back Cover of The Book (Acrobat)

Read the Table of Contents and Preface (Acrobat)

Water and Land Use Are Inextricably Linked
Legislative, Regulatory, and Policy Framework for Water Planning
Land Use Planning and Its Relationships to Water Resources
Analyzing Water Demands
Evaluating Water Supplies
Preparing an Integrated Water Resources Plan
Linking Water Quality Protection with Land Use
Towards Collaborative Water Planning


A valuable and useful "how to" handbook for environmental and land use planners, engineers, water resource planners, governmental officials, and attorneys. The first complete guide to address the increasingly important link between land use planning in California and the availablity of water. Summarizes key statutes, governmental policies and requirements, and current practices. Presents methods for evaluating water demand, supply, reliability, and quality, and for meeting legislative requirements for linking water supplies and land use decisions. Includes many illustrations and photographs, tables, flow charts, case studies, sample documents, practice tips, a glossary, references, and an index.

Topics Covered:

  • Water and land use - inextricably linked
  • Legislative, regulatory, and policy frameworks for water planning
  • Land use planning and its relationship to water resources
  • Linking water demands with land uses
  • Evaluating water supplies
  • Preparing an integrated water resource plan
  • Linking water quality protection with land uses
  • Towards collaborative water planning


Karen Johnson is a Water Resources Planner with 20 years' experience in water supply and infrastructure planning. As a consultant for public agencies and private water companies, she manages all aspects of water system planning projects, including water demand analyses, sizing and siting of facilities, alternatives analyses, and watershed protection strategies for drinking water. She teaches on day professional development classes for both University of California Extension at Davis and Berkeley on water resources planning. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studios and Planning from Sonoma State University.

Jeff Loux, Director of the Land Use and Natural Resources Program for the University of California at Davis Extension, is an Adjunct Faculty member in the Landscape Architecture Program in the College of Environmental Design. His Extension program is responsible for more than 100 classes, conferences, and training sessions each year for more than 3,000 professionals in land use planning, resource policy and management, water policy, and environmental law. Dr. Loux has served as Planning Director for the City of Davis, consulted for local, state, and federal governments and for various nonprofit organizations, and continues to serve as a mediator for the Water Forum in Sacramento. He earned his doctorate from U.C. Berkeley in Envirnomental Planning with a specialty in groundwater.


We believe this book is long overdue. It links water resources and land use planning, two subjects that historically have been addressed separately and dealt with by separate agencies, departments, and professionals. This book bridges the gap between those who plan for California’s water future and those who plan for the state’s land use future.

What This Book Is About

The book is both a basic information source and a “how to” handbook for anyone interested in water resources planning and management.

Chapter 1 offers a glimpse of California’s water history as it applies to land use and urban development, and provides background on why linkages between water and land use are so critical. The chapter also describes why connections between growth and water supply have not occurred in the past, and offers a set of themes that define today’s complex environment.

Chapters 2 and 3 summarize the vast array of statutes, requirements, policies, and practices that water planners and land use planners need to know. Chapter 2 identifies statutes, regulations, and practices that apply to long-range water planning, including recent legislation linking supply and growth, and chapter 3 describes California’s various land use planning and zoning laws, requirements, and practices that relate to resources. Together, the two chapters provide a framework for integrating land use plans and decisions with water resources.

Chapters 4, 5, and 6 serve as a technical handbook that shows how to integrate water planning and land use planning comprehensively and analytically. Chapter 4 explains how to conduct detailed water demand analyses that can be used to meet a variety of planning and regulatory requirements. The methodology used for these studies reflects the state-of-the-art in demand projection that is likely to become the standard approach for all water purveyors in the future.

Chapter 5 defines the available water sources in California, and describes how to assess the reliability of supply for various types of water years. The chapter also shows how to integrate new and emerging supply choices into future water scenarios.

Chapter 6, which explains the principles and process of Integrated Resource Planning, brings demand and supply together. It also demonstrates how to package a set of programs, projects, and actions into resource alternatives that can be communicated to and evaluated by the public and other agencies and reviewers.

Chapter 7 discusses the water quality considerations that must be integrated into land use and water planning, and identifies the key features and variables of a watershed approach to source protection. In addition, the chapter offers suggestions for practical urban design that can integrate resource protection strategies into the built environment.

Chapter 8 recognizes today’s reality that working collaboratively with a variety of interests, agencies, and stakeholders is both necessary and valuable. The chapter offers a framework for understanding and participating in collaborative decision-making processes in water policy and land use that facilitators, watershed coordinators, planners, analysts, and anyone else involved in multi-party, multi-agency programs or projects will find useful.

Who Might Benefit from This Book?

This book is meant to meet the needs of many different professionals working in California in the water or land use arena.

For the land use planner “in the trenches” at a city, county, or regional agency, the book provides a snapshot of California’s water supply and water quality issues, and describes the laws, tools, and approaches planners use or should use as they plan for water. In particular, chapters 1 and 2 offer background on California water and the many laws and environmental requirements which planners need to know. Chapters 4 through 6 are useful in providing a detailed, step-by-step methodology to meet recent legislative requirements for linking water supply and land use decisions. Chapter 7 illustrates innovative design features for capturing and cleaning up urban runoff, which is becoming particularly critical as stormwater permitting requirements expand.

For the water resources planner, consultant, or engineer, the book offers a glimpse into the world of land use planning and describes how water resources fit into the structure necessary for creating California’s future communities. It serves as a step-by-step guide for data collection, analysis, and planning techniques, and suggests an approach for preparing an integrated resources plan. Those already familiar with water issues in California will benefit from chapter 3’s description of the land use process and planning requirements and, in particular, from suggestions for integrating resource planning into both long-term and day-to-day development. In addition, chapter 4 presents a detailed methodology for linking land use planning with water demand projection that can identify the need for new water supply or infrastructure improvement, at the same time minimizing the perception of growth inducement. Information about and approaches to managing and analyzing water supplies, described in chapter 5, will support the efforts of planners to craft an integrated approach, described in chapter 6, that can guide decisionmaking.

For the water conservation specialist, environmental professional, water supply engineer, and resource manager, the book identifies ways to stretch California’s existing water supply, develop new sources that have a minimal effect on the environment, and link resource decisions with the California Environmental Quality Act and other similar laws. Chapters 2 and 3 present the legislative basis for these considerations, while chapters 4, 5, and 6 describe efficiency measures that can be implemented in a water planning process along with other related environmental standards.

Watershed planners and drinking water source protection engineers will find chapters 7 and 8 particularly relevant. Chapter 7 examines the linkage between various land uses and their effect on water quality, with an overview of suggested management practice. Chapter 8 discusses how to establish and work within collaborative groups and multi-agency/multi-stakeholder situations.

For the attorney, policy specialist, decisionmaker, or state or federal government official, the book is a “one-stop shop” for laws, policies, regulations, and best practices that influence water resource planning as it relates to land use and urban growth. In particular, chapters 2 and 3 illustrates the types of water planning and land use planning, respectively, that is done at the local government level. Chapters 5 and 6 shows how to integrate supply opportunities into a comprehensive long-range plan, given the uncertainties and risks with water planning in California.

For all readers, this book suggests hundreds of information sources and references (including many that are Internet-based), along with numerous case studies that have shaped water issues. These seminal studies offer a starting point for thinking about the water resources and land use challenges we face as a society.

The Authors’ Goals

This book does not present a particular political philosophy or agenda. It is intended as a building block to protect and enhance the quality of California’s future environment and, for that matter, of any state wishing to optimize its water supplies. The authors are committed to protecting and restoring the streams, rivers, wetlands, and other aquatic resources that contribute enormously to the habitat and quality of our state. At the same time, we are equally committed to sustaining California’s communities and economic well being with thoughtful future water and land use planning. And finally, we are unabashedly interested in community equity. Water solutions should be cost-effective. This is not to say that we should avoid paying the environmental and social costs of water production, but we should be ever mindful of the costs to urban and farm users alike. For those versed in the tenets of sustainability, this prescription will look familiar: environment, economy, and equity—referred to as the three “e’s” of sustainability—addressed as a package.

For many in the no-growth or environmental community, this book may read like a prescription for building more water projects and freeing up resources for more population growth and, ultimately, the demise of the state’s natural resources. We think differently. The population is here and growing. Many of us may personally lament that fact, but to avoid thoughtful water planning in the hope that the population will not come to the state or to our community is to ensure the demise of our natural heritage. Water is the California crisis of the next fifty years. We can either continue with outmoded solutions that have resulted in environmental and economic problems and endless legal stalemates, or we can move toward more analytical, creative, and inclusive management of resources.

For many in the economic development community, the book may read like a treatise on how to entangle plans and projects in lengthy regulatory reviews and processes of public involvement, and how to avoid the real choices of new reservoirs, dams, and pipelines. We think differently. We seek to stretch what we have through conservation, reuse, and recycling, transfers, and conjunctive use of ground and surface water. But we understand that management of existing sources alone cannot meet future need. We support the development of new water sources or storage of winter flows where they are cost-effective and result in the fewest negative environmental and community effects. We do not believe, for example, that the robust agricultural industry should simply step aside and sell its water to satisfy insatiable urban thirst. Yet, where appropriate, water transfers can be part of our future. Developing the right source when and where it is needed can accomplish the three “e’s” of sustainability. A groundwater basin, for example, can serve as storage, avoiding the impact a new on-stream reservoir has on habitat. Recycling can provide water for specific uses, saving precious potable water for drinking. There is plenty of room for pessimism. With 12 million new Californians in the next 20 years, with water shortages predicted as high as 2 to 4 million acre feet annually (in a normal year!), and with potentially less favorable hydrologic conditions, one could easily paint a doomsday picture. But we are decidedly optimistic. Working together, stakeholders from the environmental, business, water, and public communities can craft solutions that offer a sustained water future for the state.

We can accept no less.

Karen E. Johnson
Jeff Loux
August 2004