California Water Rights

DATA SOURCE: State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)

CALIFORNIA WATER RIGHTS depicts information from the electronic Water Rights Information Management System (eWRIMS) database. Responding to the challenges we face in California, where water used for agricultural, environmental, and urban purposes is highly contentious in times of naturally occurring droughts, the sculpture is an exploration into how we as a society attempt to permit and regulate the right to use water to maintain this precarious balance of needs.

Strands of ball chain hang from a meandering metal river. Each strand represents 1,072 of the largest permitted water users in California. The length of each strand correlates to the amount of water each user holds the right to, and the color represents the type of entity. This permanent architectural installation in the atrium of an office building spans 3 floors. Each ball represents 1 acre-foot of water, or just under 326,000 gallons. There are over 11,000 feet of ball chain in the sculpture, conveying the immense amount of water allocated - greater than how much water is naturally available. The sculpture allows the viewer to directly experience and gain knowledge about the current water allocation system and to consider where our priorities as a society are in how we manage shared and precious resources.

California Water Rights was recognized in the top 100 list for the prestigious 2017 CODA Awards. CODA recognizes outstanding collaborations in Art and Design.

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