1979 California Water Atlas

The California Water Atlas, published by the State of California, was a landmark atlas with the first comprehensive look at California’s extensive water system in a geographic context. The atlas itself measured about 18.5 x 16 inches and had hundreds of maps and infographics that told the story of California water in different ways.

The goal of the atlas was to “introduce Californians to the complex and compelling issues of water in the state, giving them the information they need to participate more actively in the decisions that governmental agencies make”. When the atlas came out in 1979, it got rave reviews from both historians and scientists. Now at 37 years old, the atlas is still fresh and germane to today’s issues.

I was able to find a copy at our city’s library, and I must tell you it is a wonder to behold!

atlas1     atlas3


If you cannot find a copy to look at, there is good news for you. The atlas has been scanned and put online for free public access by the David Rumsey Map Collection.  The book was digitized at very high resolution so the resulting images can be explored, revealing all the amazing detail in the many diagrams, maps, and illustrations that accompany the extensive text.  Click below to enjoy the cartographic glory of The California Water Atlas!


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