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 California Climate Change Assessment. 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 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 Resolution on Climate Change

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

The Board's 2018 Climate Change Resolution identifies the following climate change priority goals based on "Key Beneficial Uses and Key Areas: Focusing on What is Most Important" San Diego Water Board Resolution R9-2017-0030:

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

1st rank: Drinking Water and supply reservoir

2nd rank: Groundwater Basin

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

• Capture storm water without harming downstream ecosystems

Safe to Eat

1st rank: Ocean

2nd rank: Bays

3rd rank: Harbors, lagoons, estuaries

• Address bioaccumulation and toxin threats

• Protect and increase refuges for intertidal ecosystems

Safe to Swim

1st rank: Ocean and Bays

2nd rank: Harbors

3rd rank: Lagoons, estuaries, streams, stream mouths

• Ensure low-gradient beaches remain accessible for recreational uses

• Identify and remedy vulnerable public infrastructure

Healthy Ecosystem

1st rank: Ocean, San Diego Bay, lagoons, estuaries, stream systems

2nd rank: Mission Bay, stream mouths

3rd rank: Harbors, ponds

• Protect and increase intertidal ecosystems

• Protect and restore natural flow regimes


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CONTACTS For additional information contact James Smtih, Senior Environmental Scientist, at or 619-521-5906.