How engineers see the water glass in California

Engineering a water glass at 50 percent. Source:

Engineering a water glass at 50 percent. Source:

How do engineers see the water glass in California? Mostly the same as they did four years ago when this blog was first posted, though with today’s drought the glass is perhaps down to a quarter full — or three-quarters empty. 

By Jay R. Lund

Depending on your outlook, the proverbial glass of water is either half full or half empty. Not so for engineers in California.

Civil engineer: The glass is too big.

Flood control engineer: The glass should be 50 percent bigger.

Army Corps levee engineer: The glass should be 50 percent thicker.

Mexicali Valley water engineer: Your leaky glass is my water supply.

Delta levee engineer: Why is water rising on the outside of my glass?

Dutch levee engineer: The water should be kept in a pitcher.

Southern California water engineer: Can we get another pitcher?

Northern California water engineer: Who took half my water?

Consulting engineer: How much water would you like?

Environmental engineer: I wouldn’t drink that.

Water reuse engineer: Someone else drank from this glass.

Groundwater engineer: Can I get a longer straw?

Academic engineer: I don’t have a glass or any water, but I’ll tell you what to do with yours.

Jay Lund is a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis.

Further reading

Munroe, Randall. Glass Half Empty.

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6 Responses to How engineers see the water glass in California

  1. Jai Rho says:

    Bruce Lee would have said: Don’t concentrate on the glass, or you will miss all that heavenly glory.

  2. Pingback: BLOG ROUND-UP: California’s internecine water war; the Bay Delta and the ESA; Drought as a weapon of mass destruction; About that 40%; and more … | MAVEN'S NOTEBOOK | Water news

  3. Jeff Micko says:

    Water Resources Engineer: I can model the glass and run simulations to predict how full it will be in the future under alternative management strategies!

  4. Pingback: Blog: How engineers see the water glass in California | H2minusO Blog

  5. Sari Sommarstrom says:

    Beaver Engineer: Just leave me alone and let me build more dams.

  6. Joanne Vinton says:

    I hope that this blog will be able to give readers some analysis of the possible environmental effects of the Feinstein/McCarthy “Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act” bill, assuming President Obama signs it. (No need to post this comment.)

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