San Luis Reservoir, at 19 percent of capacity, September 2014.

Watermark: Along the California Aqueduct

Modern California is an extraordinary achievement. To make a semi-arid region habitable and prosperous has required massive geo-engineering — reservoirs, dams, aqueducts, canals, pumping stations, and treatment plants, all dedicated to harvesting, storing, supplying, and transporting water. But now this achievement has produced a wicked tangle of problems.

The extraordinary achievement of modern California — the transformation of a semi-arid region into an abundant and prosperous place — has produced a wicked tangle of problems.




  • Belmont Freeman
  • Aaron Rothman
  • Keith Eggener
  • Despina Stratigakos

Belmont Freeman

Belmont Freeman is a columnist for Places. He is principal of Belmont Freeman Architects, an award-winning design firm in New York City.

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Aaron Rothman

Aaron Rothman is the photo editor of Places, and an artist and writer whose work explores contemporary issues in landscape.

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Keith Eggener

Keith Eggener is a columnist for Places. He is Marion Dean Ross Professor of Architectural History at the University of Oregon.

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Despina Stratigakos

Despina Stratigakos is a columnist for Places. She is an internationally recognized historian and professor in the architecture department at the University at Buffalo.

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