Donations to Maven’s Notebook: A water, science and policy blog are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Maven’s Notebook seeks to demystify the confusing and complex world of California water policy, and create the chronicle of record for our generation’s debate over water and the environment. An informed public, and informed policy-makers, are essential to resolve complicated water challenges. 

Published daily, Maven’s Notebook helps cut through the complex and controversial details of water flow, water supply and water quality and environmental disputes, leading to more rational outcomes that will benefit the environment.  The mission of Maven’s Notebook is to be a source of objective and understandable information about these multi-faceted issues. In an effort to make this information as accessible as possible, there is no charge to use the Notebook website. It is pure reader-supported journalism, made possible by our donors and sponsors.


The Opportunity

Californians face a constant barrage of opinions, arguments and assertions of ‘facts’ about water and the environment. Making sense of the competing claims is extremely difficult. Maven’s Notebook recognizes that the public, policy makers, corporate interests, and environmental activists need a comprehensive source of factual, unbiased information on California water issues.

Since first published in 2012, a simple blog has grown into a complete, daily news source on California water issues that is used by all of the competing interests. The website has a proven track record of providing in-depth news and information without being an advocate for any particular solution or approach. Proof of the non-partisan nature of Maven’s Notebook is the fact that it has been cited by DWR’s Water News Clips, BC Water News, The Delta Stewardship Council’s News Clips, and many other publications and water policy blogs.


Our Strategy

We believe that the need for critical need for objective, fact-based information on California water issues will only continue to grow in the face of climate change. To ensure objectivity, we reject editorializing in favor of reporting what folks engaged in water disputes have to say. Our strategy is to cover critical events and participants, such as meetings of state agencies, that are almost never reported on by the major media. To earn our reputation as an objective news source, we do not engage in spin, snippy summaries or editorial comments.  The Notebook quotes the participants directly, and at greater length than conventional media coverage, leaving it to the reader to judge how successful the different interests are in making their case.

Maven’s Notebook also provides reliable, hard to get information by reporting on major planning/regulatory efforts such as the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan, the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan, and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.  These complex processes are often highly controversial and of great interest to Delta stakeholders, legislators, environmentalists, and the public. Yet, planning and regulatory efforts go mostly unreported in the mainstream media.

Maven’s Notebook also tracks what agencies are doing. The Department of Water Resources, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Water Board, and others issue a steady stream of press releases which are meant to inform other agencies, organizations, and the public about planning processes, regulatory changes, and other events. This information almost never appears in the mainstream media. Maven’s Notebook is the go-to source of up-to-date, detailed information about state agencies involved in water policy.

We also follow scientific developments in the Delta, providing updates on important scientific research, meetings and other events of interest to scientists working in the Delta.  For example, only Maven’s Notebook has extensively covered the development of the Delta Science Plan by the Science Program of the Delta Stewardship Council.

Finally, Maven’s Notebook is the only daily source of complete, comprehensive California water news. Published daily, it posts breaking news, provides weekly updates on reservoir and hydrologic conditions, and provides daily news aggregation of relevant Delta news, articles, and commentary, as well as a calendar of meetings and events that are of interest to readers.


Our Leadership

A leading voice in California water news, Chris Austin is the founder and publisher of the independent and reader-­‐supported Maven’s Notebook website, California’s most comprehensive source for water news and information.

Dedicated to providing unbiased information about California water issues, Maven’s Notebook reaches thousands of regular readers and water leaders throughout the state. Based in Southern California but regularly traveling throughout the state to cover conferences, meetings and events, Chris Austin has earned a stellar reputation among the state’s agricultural, environmental and water stakeholders for unbiased, complete, timely and accurate reporting and news curation.  Chris is also the founder of the new California Water Library, an online archive of documents, maps, photography and other assets aggregated from myriad sources and sites.

With a decade of experience writing and aggregating California water news for multiple websites, Chris Austin receives regular recognition from her peers. In 2015, her work was recognized with a scientific journalism award from the California-­‐Nevada chapter of the American Fisheries Society, and a merit award from the California Water Policy Conference. In 2016, Chris was also recognized by online news agency Environmental & Energy Publishing as one of nine Californians who play key roles in water policy. And Chris recently received The Harold Gilliam Award for Excellence in Environmental Reporting by The Bay Institute, one of the California’s premier environmental groups. 

In addition to writing original content and aggregating news for Maven’s Notebook, Austin also contributes water-­‐related content to Capitol Weekly, Estuary News, KCET SoCal Connected, and Zócalo Public Square.



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