• Article

Drought water right curtailment analysis for California's Eel River

Water users in California's hybrid water rights system have different legal priorities to available surface water in times of water scarcity. A set of two linear programming models was developed to determine curtailments of water use under drought conditions according to riparian and appropriative water right doctrines with spatially varying water availability and water rights within a basin. The models were implemented in spreadsheets and extended to estimate water right reliability and factors of safety in water rights administration. Alternate methods for calculating water use curtailments are discussed. Curtailments from the models are compared with actual water shortage notices issued by the state for the Eel River, California for June 30, 2014. Analyzing water use curtailments with an algorithm in spreadsheet software offers a mechanistic, transparent, accessible, and precise approach derived from legal doctrines to support water rights administration during drought. (c) 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers.


Lord, B., Magnuson-Skeels, B., Tweet, A., Whittington, C., Adams, L., Thayer, R., & Lund, J. (2018). Drought water right curtailment analysis for California's Eel River. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management-Asce, 144(2), [04017082]. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)WR.1943-5452.0000820