Water cycle in California (simplified version)

“The amount of precipitation that falls in California has not varied significantly between the time of European contact and the present. Annual rainfall and snowfall produce approximately 200 million acre-feet”, which is equivalent to 250 billion cubic meters per year. “Most of this precipitation, about 65 percent, evaporates directly into the atmosphere, with nearly all the remaining 71 million acre-feet (88 billion cubic meters) making its way into streams and, ultimately in aboriginal times, the ocean, save for the water entering underground basins or aquifers.” (Hundley, 2001)

How is distributed this rainfall in time and in space across the 164,000 square miles of California’s land (424,000 square kilometers)?

How is the annual distribution and yearly recurrence of droughts and floods?

I will explore those topics in next short posts, where my main goal is to analyze the best solutions to direct the recently approved bill, 2.5 billion USD, for enhancing water storage in California. Its name is Proposition 1.


Hundley, N., 2001. The Great Thirst: Californians and Water: A History. University of California Press. pp. 1-26

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