Climate Change Readiness

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Climate change is happening. The direct and indirect effects of climate change have broad-reaching implications for the San Diego Water Board’s mission to protect and restore uses of water. The State of California regularly compiles a variety of information on science, news, and actions at the Climate Change Portal. The State and Regional Water Boards have a key role in the State’s implementation plan known as Safeguarding California.

Effects of climate change.

For instance, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and changes to precipitation patterns, groundwater levels, and temperature will influence how we ensure that water is safe for drinking, swimming, fish and shellfish consumption, and ecosystems. The California Climate Change Center produced a climate change impact report (2009) summarizing some of the threats to the San Diego Region. And, the Climate Science Alliance has produced a report on effects of climate change to the region's ecosystem (2018).

Effects of management actions.

In addition, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and industries need to make a variety of difficult decisions regarding potential climate change impacts to their interests; and those decisions could affect our mission in the coming years. For examples see Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategy for San Diego Bay (2012). For instance:

  • Accommodating higher tidal surges by armoring coastlines could restrict recreational uses of beaches and bays.
  • Managing larger volumes of storm water by modifying stream channels could disrupt ecosystem uses of streams and wetlands.
  • Relying on natural attenuation of soil contamination could be risky if the area may become inundated due to sea level rise or rising groundwater.

San Diego Water Board Activities

Resolution No. R9-2018-0051 "Addressing Threats to Beneficial Uses from Climate Change" adopted June 20, 2018

The Board's 2018 Resolution identifies the following climate change priority goals:

Key Beneficial Use
Key Areas for the Use*
Recommended Top Climate Change Goals
Safe to Drink

1st Rank: Drinking Water and supply reservoir

2nd Rank: Groundwater

• Increase local water supply via effective water conservation and enhanced water recycling

• Capture storm water without harming downstream ecosystems

Safe to Eat

1st: Ocean

2nd: Bays

3rd: Harbors, lagoons, estuaries

• Address bioaccumulation and toxin threats

• Capture storm water without harming in-stream ecosystems

Safe to Swim

1st: Ocean and Bays

2nd: Harbors

3rd: Lagoons, estuaries, streams, stream mouths

• Ensure low-gradient beaches remain accessible for recreational uses

• Identify and remedy vulnerable public infrastructure

Healthy Ecosystem

1st: Ocean

2nd: Bays

3rd: Harbors, lagoons, estuaries

• Protect and increase intertidal ecosystems

• Protect and restore natural flow regimes

* Key areas are identified in "Key Beneficial Uses and Key Areas: Focusing on What is Most Important" adopted by San Diego Water Board Resolution R9-2017-0030.



Considering the Science: Meeting with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Southern California Coastal Waters Research Project.

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CONTACTS For additional information contact Jeremy Haas, Environmental Program Manager, at or 619-521-3009.