How Data Is Making California’s Water Wars Worse

An Explosion of Information May Allow Californians to Track—and Fight About—Every Drop

If you thought California’s famously bitter water wars were hard-fought, just wait until you see our water data wars.

Californians fight over water because we all need it and there is rarely enough to satisfy the full needs of many competing interests—farmers and fishermen, environmentalists and industry, state and local water agencies, and, of course, residents. In this way, California water history mirrors that of the entire state: Californians’ desires always outstrip our abundance, and we never stop battling over how to divide things up.

Now, digital tools are expanding the …