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Climate Change

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.

Climate and Racial Equity Forum

The State Water Board to Host Virtual Forum on Decision-Support Frameworks for Climate and Racial Equity in Water Boards Programs

  • WHEN: Monday, July 17, 2023, from 1:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • HOW: Register for Zoom and share questions
  • INTERPRETATION: If you would like to request interpretation services during the forum, please contact languageservices@waterboards.ca.gov by June 28, 2023, and include “Climate Forum” in the subject.
  • UPDATES: Keep checking this webpage for updates and more information (waterboards.ca.gov/climate)

The Water Boards have a shared mission to preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water. The Water Boards envision a California where people’s access to water resources and the quality of those water resources do not depend on their race and where Water Boards staff consistently apply a racial equity lens to decision-making. Current and future climate change hazards—such as more intense droughts, floods, and wildfires—threaten water supplies, access to drinking water and sanitation, groundwater conditions, and beneficial uses of California’s waters. Climate change affects communities and parts of the water sector in different ways and tends to disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities and communities in California with fewer resources. Climate change is a major challenge to the Water Boards’ mission and vision.

This forum will serve as an opportunity for input on how the Water Boards should prioritize climate action related to our mission. Researchers, advocates, and community organizations will share about tools, experiences, and recommendations that the Water Boards can learn from to address disproportionate climate impacts. Members of the public are invited to listen in, and there will be time for input and questions. This is the first public event to inform the early development of the Climate and Racial Equity Strategy (CARES), a State Water Board Racial Equity Action Plan commitment.

If your organization would like to be considered as a panelist for this or future State Water Board climate-related events or for any other questions about the forum, please contact the Climate Team at climate@waterboards.ca.gov and include “Climate Forum” in the subject.

The agenda will be posted online before the forum. The forum will be recorded and made available online.

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.

The State Water Board’s 2021 racial equity resolution expands the 2017 climate change resolution to include disproportionate climate impacts on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

Opens the Drought page
Opens the Water Conservation page
Opens the Water Rights Climate Change page
Opens the SAFER page

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.

Recycling water

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

Adaptation

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

Guidance documents

Adaptation tools and research

Mitigation

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.

Mitigation plans

Mitigation policies

CalEPA climate-related programs

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