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.
- Safeguarding California outlines the adaptation strategy to build resilience and prepare for impacts
- Planning and Investing for a Resilient California provides high level guidance on how to approach and what to plan for in light of changing climate
- Sea-Level Rise Guidance provides a methodology to assess risks and incorporate rising sea into decisions
- View regional impacts in the California Climate Science and Data booklet, or
- Click icons below to explore top climate risks in California (from States at Risk).
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.
- AB 32 Scoping Plan describes the approach California will use to reduce greenhouses gases
- Reducing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants in California can make an immediate beneficial impact on climate change
- Financial Assistance: find funding options
- Cal-Adapt: explore or download observed and projected climate data
- Personal Actions
- Climate Change Science Basics
Plans and Policies
- California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32)
- Emissions Limit (SB 32)
- AB 32 Scoping Plan
- Safeguarding California
- Water Action Plan
- Governor's Executive Order B-30-15
- Planning and Investing for a Resilient California (EO B-30-15 Guidance)
- State of California Sea-Level Rise Guidance
- CEQA Guidelines
Water Board Actions
- Water Conservation and Efficiency save water, and can also save energy.
- Recycled Water contributes to resilient water supply, and has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Storm Water capture and use can provide flood protection, augment local water supply, and have water quality and other benefits.
- Water Rights applicants are encouraged to consider climate change impacts on their proposed project to ensure that their water right is minimally impacted by climate change
- Regional Water Boards are taking region-specific actions:
- Co-Digestion Capacity in California
- For more statewide topics, follow the Programs link.