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Climate Change

This page provides a broad context for water-related actions to prepare for and respond to climate change. Click through the topics below to view more information. To navigate to specific program content, please follow the programs at the top of the page.

Climate change is affecting and will affect different regions in different ways. The State Water Board and Regional 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 if replacing an existing or future, higher-carbon water supplies.

Vulnerabilities of water resources in the changing climate include changes to water availability, subsidence, increased amount of water pollution, 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
  • 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).
  • 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.

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