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Climate Change

Extreme weather events, including drought, high intensity precipitation, flooding, and extreme heat have occurred through much of California in the recent years, and are projected to increase in frequency, extent, or intensity due to climate change. Additional climate change impacts include prolonged fire seasons with larger and more intense fires, tree mortality, rising sea level and storm surges.

This page provides a broad context for water-related actions to prepare for and respond to climate change.

The Water Boards have taken a variety of actions to respond to climate change. Examples include funding the expansion of recycled water to increase drought resilience, adopting regulations to increase the collection of urban storm water, and reducing flood risk and enhancing water supply. Many of actions that increase resilience of water supplies and of ecosystems also have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through replacement of existing or future water supply sources that have higher carbon footprints.

  • State Water Board's 2007 resolution set forth initial actions to respond to climate change and support the implementation of California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).
  • State Water Board's 2017 resolution builds on previous work, and requires a proactive approach to climate change in all Board actions, with the intent to embed climate change consideration into all programs and activities. Press Release

New or increased threats to water resources include changes to water availability and water quality, subsidence, erosion, flooding, and related risks to water and wastewater infrastructure and operations, degradation of watersheds, alteration of aquatic ecosystems and loss of habitat, multiple impacts in coastal areas, and ocean acidification.

Adaptation refers to actions taken to build resilience, and to adjust to impacts of changing climate on society and the environment.

Extreme Heat  Drought   Coastal Flooding   Inland Flooding   Wildfires

Although many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries, even if human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are reduced or stopped, the less climate change there is - the less we have to deal with the impacts.

Mitigation, in the context of climate change, refers to actions taken to reduce concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The fossil fuel-based energy used to pump, convey, and treat water, and for end-uses of water, is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions related to water. Reducing the energy intensity of water, replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, improving efficiency, and reducing water consumption can all help reduce the carbon footprint of the water.



Water Board Actions


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