Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


A. Dan Tarlock


The paradox of California is that growth is concentrated in arid southern California but most of the state’s water supply, with the exception of the Colorado and Owens Rivers, originates in the north. This has meant that the state has had to bring massive amounts of water to the south to support the state’s celebrated continued population growth in order to compensate for California’s “bad hydrology.”1 From 1940 to 2007, California’s population increased from 6,950,000 to 37,786,000, and that growth has stressed the state’s capacity to meet the demand for water. Predicting the future is impossible, but the most conservative working assumption (at least before the deep current recession) is that the state’s climate and landscape will continue to hold and attract people. The 2009 Update to the California Water Plan displays three growth scenarios out to 2050. The Blueprint Projection holds the state’s population at a more or less constant level, but the Current Trends and Expansive Growth scenarios project a population that ranges from 50,000,000 to 70,000,000. This Article traces the evolution of California’s linkage laws from the time that cities operated under the public utility model, which viewed local governments as unconstrained suppliers, to the first linkage law, enacted in 1995.