A Newsletter about California Water, Land, and People


"SPILLWAY is a great new resource for students to learn more about California water issues. The articles are well researched and heavily referenced without being overly technical. The articles in SPILLWAY provide a perspective about water issues in California that is difficult to find in other printed sources. I highly endorse SPILLWAY for library collections and believe it will be useful to students in high school, community colleges, or universities."

- Linda Vida, Library Director, University of California Water Resources Center Archives.


So, what's a newsletter covering "California Water, Land, and People" about?

As SPILLWAY's editor, I intend the newsletter for environmental and watershed activists, land owners, environmental and land use planners, water bureaucrats and lawyers, and California citizens who want to read good and useful writing about water, land, and people, non-fiction division.

As editor, I bring to SPILLWAY a passion for California water issues. Born in Pasadena, raised in Redwood City, water entered my consciousness during the 1975-77 drought: my father rigged up a 55-gallon graywater irrigation system from my mother's washing machine. We stashed water bottles in the toilet tank, took short showers. The lawns turned brown.

I have studied and written about California's water issues since 1980; urgently since the last drought ended in 1992. I have been a practicing urban planner since 1988.

These and other experiences led me to conceive SPILLWAY.

I find media slanting against opposing voices in water politics, ignoring key facts of history, avoiding the workings of political and economic interests in the exploitation of water and land under the relentless spread of urban California. Water is lifeblood here in California; the single most critical ecological limiting factor as sure in its finality as an empty wallet - or a maxed-out credit card - stops a purchase.

But there's another crucial water fact that not enough Californians appreciate: every drop of water that falls here as rain, snow, fog, or hail is owned by the people of California. It is OUR resource; how well or poorly it is treated by those using it should be something as many Californians as possible should be vigilant about. Yet we're not.

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"Land and people" are the places and subjects of SPILLWAY. Land is, after all, the rock-bottom source of wealth for a people, because if you have land, you might make a living free from another's will and control.

Land is also the stage of local politics, where issues may have roots in political, economic, and ecological conflicts over land.

Democratic and accountable control of water and land is therefore the material basis of political and economic freedom and justice, and of ecological sustainability.

Among our readers are major water industry associations, reclamation and water agencies, watershed and environmental justice activists, lawyers, farmers, and environmentalists. Word has gotten around.

SPILLWAY will bring you reports on who does what on public trust issues in other rivers throughout California, profiles of water rights speculators, updates on court decisions and water board hearings, groundwater, environmental justice in fishing the Delta and San Francisco Bay - and more.

Water, land, and people are all bound up with the exercise of political power here. "Power veils itself," writes geographer and historian Gray Brechin, author of the recent masterpiece Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin. Your subscription to SPILLWAY will support unveiling power.

Finally, SPILLWAY will dispense hope - via realistic appraisals of actual possibilities in the face of present obstacles - for democratic renewal, environmental justice, and for restoring humans within nature's economy.

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Email and Letters to the Editor may be sent to:

Last updated: 16 February 2004