Water managers in the West are faced with multiple and compounding challenges from climate change, spatial-administrative complexity, legal uncertainty and increasing demand from population, industry and environment needs. This article thus assesses the current state of water management in California by specifically looking at the fragmentation of governance and management and the variable management schemes proposed to solve the problems. As current management has resulted in delays and failures, new political factions and economic and environmental burdens have added new stresses for water managers. My study area is the Central Coast of California specifically the geographic region of the Monterey Bay, with a specific focus on the Monterey Peninsula (MP), Carmel Bay and South Monterey Bay Region. The methodology consists of a qualitative examination of water governance and management responses in the region through interviews, analysis of documents and materials, and direct observations of practices. The results demonstrate that decentralized management in CA has led to multiple dimensions of jurisdictional fragmentation and legal uncertainty relevant to all water managers in the state. Furthermore, the paradigm shift that is taking place in water management towards a more integrative and adaptive framework is hampered by these barriers and has been slow to take effect. Thus, further research is necessary to monitor this shift and to document ways to overcome current legal and political-administrative barriers.