Welcome to the Climate Change Site
The State Water Resources Control Board and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Water Boards) strive to protect the many beneficial uses of California waters and ensure a sustainable water supply for all Californians. Current and future climate change effects—such as more frequent wildfires, floods, and droughts—threaten California's water supply and exacerbate challenges like groundwater management and access to safe and affordable drinking water. The Water Boards promote water measures that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and help Californians adapt to the impacts of climate change primarily through permits, regulations, and financing. This webpage provides a broad context for Water Boards actions related to climate change.
- Adaptation refers to actions taken to build resilience and to adjust to the impacts of climate change.
- Resilience is the capacity to prepare for, recover from, and grow from disruptions.
- Mitigation, in the context of climate change, refers to actions taken to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
- Vulnerable communities experience heightened risk and increased sensitivity to climate change and have less capacity and fewer resources to cope with, adapt to, or recover from climate impacts.
State Water Board Climate Change Resolutions
The State Water Board's 2007 climate change resolution sets forth initial actions to respond to climate change and support the implementation of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).
The State Water Board's 2017 comprehensive response to climate change resolution builds on previous work and directs a proactive approach to climate change in all board actions to embed climate change considerations into all programs and activities. Press Release.
Water Boards Actions
Below are Water Boards actions with corresponding programs that support climate change adaptation, water resilience, and greenhouse gas mitigation. Many adaptation actions that increase the resilience of water systems and ecosystems, such as saving water, also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Saving water and monitoring water use
Water conservation and efficiency save water and can also save energy. See the Water Conservation Portal for water-saving actions and monitoring.
Capturing and monitoring storm water
Capturing storm water can provide flood protection, augment water supply, and have water quality and other benefits. See the Storm Water Program.
Planning for water availability
Proposed water supply projects should consider climate change impacts on water availability. See the Water Rights and Climate Change website and the staff report for recommendations on how applicants can ensure that their water right is minimally impacted by climate change.
Supporting groundwater sustainability
Groundwater management can buffer against drought and climate change. See the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act website.
Tracking climate impact concerns
Drinking water suppliers share their climate change concerns through the Electronic Annual Report survey. See the 2018 survey data that reflect suppliers’ perceived climate threats.
Ensuring environmental justice
The Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) drinking water program and needs assessment address the continuing disproportionate environmental burdens in the state.
Reuse contributes to a resilient water supply and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. See the Water Boards Recycled Water Policy and Regulations.
Augmenting wastewater treatment
Processing food waste at wastewater treatment plants could reduce greenhouse gas emissions while supporting infrastructure and energy resilience. See the Co-Digestion Capacity in California report (and correction notice), the Appendix, and Press Release.
Regional Water Boards are taking region-specific actions:
State Interagency Climate Change Resources
The Water Boards have partnered with a variety of state agencies to increase water system resilience and support vulnerable communities. Below are state interagency adaptation and resilience plans, guidance documents, and tools.
State adaptation plans
- State Adaptation Strategy (2021, updated every 3 years)
- Water Resilience Portfolio (2020)
- Delta Adapts Adaptation Plan (forthcoming)
- Climate Vulnerable Communities Guide (OPR 2018)
- Resiliency Guidebook for State Governments (OPR 2018, update forthcoming)
- Sea-Level Rise Guidance Policy (OPC 2018, updated every 5 years)
- Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance (CCC 2018)
Adaptation tools and research
- CalEPA Environmental Mapping Tools and Data
- Adaptation Clearinghouse resource database
- Cal-Adapt climate data tools
- California’s Climate Change Assessment reports
- Climate Change Indicators research
The main source of greenhouse gas emissions from water comes from the energy used to pump, convey, treat, and heat water. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced through replacing fossil fuel sources with renewable energy, improving water and energy efficiency, and reducing water consumption and water loss. Below are state interagency mitigation plans, policies, and programs.
- 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.
- Assembly Bill 32: California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32)
- Senate Bill 32: Emissions Limit (SB 32)
CalEPA climate-related programs
For questions or to provide feedback, please contact:
- Christopher Hyun, Christopher.Hyun@waterboards.ca.gov
- James Nachbaur, James.Nachbaur@waterboards.ca.gov