The Dams of California:

Using Geographic Information Systems in Environmental History and Politics


Water has always played a crucial role in the formation of the modern California state, yet few people have a realistic, informed conception of the extensive nature of the dams and other components of the water system of the California, a system which supports their life. Because of the great number of dams, their distribution and range of factors in use, construction size, etc., it is difficult to get a strong grasp of the overall characteristics of the dams of California without the use of GIS tools. This project represents an attempt to use GIS to provide a qualitative impression of the extent and other characteristics of the dams, which form the foundation of the state's water systems. The project was originally completed by Ken Worthy, graduate student in Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley, as part of a course.


Full text of the paper


GIS images of California Dams:

100 biggest dams on a Digital Elevation Model of California

All California dams by height

Dam volume by county and 100 biggest dams

All dams, by year completed

Number of dams per county and dams by max storage

Counties by drainage area percentage

Total storage volume per county

Slide show of dam construction rates


GIS data analyses of California Dams:

Top fifteen California dam owners

California dam purposes

California dam construction by decade