The primary purpose of State Water Resources Control Board and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards is to preserve and protect the beneficial uses of all waters of the State. This includes all ground water, more than 1.6 million acres of lakes, 211,000 miles of rivers and streams, more than 1.3 million acres of bays and estuaries, 1,609 miles of coastline, and the first three miles of ocean off of our coastline. The California legislature found that “activities and factors which may affect the quality of the waters of the State shall be regulated to attain the highest water quality that is reasonable . . . (and) that the state must protect the quality of waters in the state from degradation inside or outside the boundaries of the state.”
How we use water, or expect to use water in the future determines its beneficial uses. A designated beneficial use determines the quality of water that must be maintained for that use. Protecting water quality and preventing degradation in order to preserve beneficial uses of water relies heavily on science and engineering. Protecting water quality also depends on an equitable system for allocating water resources, which is carried out by the State Water Resources Control Board’s water rights program. This report discusses the role of science and engineering (technology) in decision-making at the water boards in implementing federal and state laws along with their implementing regulations, and water board plans and policies.