How engineers see the water glass in California


Engineering a water glass at 50 percent. Source:

It looks like 2018 will be a dry year, with snowpack about 50%.  How do engineers see the water glass in California?  Mostly the same as they did six years ago in the original version of this post, but we’ve added a few more perspectives.

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: This 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?

California Water Commission engineer: Would a bigger glass provide public benefits?

Tulare Basin water engineer: I’m saving that storage to capture floods for recharge.

USBR CVP or NOAA engineer: Is that water cold?

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.

Lawyers, NGOs, managers, regulators, and elected officials also seem to have different views of glasses at 50% of their capacity.  We can start a collection of these perspectives.

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.

About jaylund

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Director, Center for Watershed Sciences University of California - Davis
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5 Responses to How engineers see the water glass in California

  1. Pingback: California Water News for March 19, 2018

  2. wavehaven says:

    Thanks for the chuckles!

  3. J Rizzi says:

    Engineer humor?

  4. Dinarn islam says:

    Your post is very nice by How engineers see the water glass in California

  5. Jeanette says:

    Every time this pops up in my feed it brightens my day.

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