Image: California Department of Water Resources

The vulnerability of the water sector to climate change is due to changing hydrologic processes that affect the frequency, magnitude, and duration of extreme events, which in turn affect water quantity, quality, and infrastructure. It has been shown that California’s hydrology is already changing due to global climate shifts. Changes in hydrology include declining snowpack, earlier snow melt, more precipitation as rain than snow, more frequent and longer droughts, more frequent and more severe flooding, changes in the timing and volume of peak runoff, and consequent impacts on water quality and water availability.[1] Anticipated and observed vulnerabilities of critical water resources include changing water supplies, land subsidence, increased water pollution, erosion, flooding, and related risks to water infrastructure and operations, degradation of watersheds, alteration of ecosystems and loss of habitat, multiple impacts in coastal areas, and ocean acidification.

California is preparing for and addressing impacts of climate change comprehensively across all components of the water cycle, from protecting and restoring upper watersheds, to resource recovery from wastewater (renewable energy, nutrients, and water). One area of focus is supporting regional groundwater management for drought resiliency, which requires the formation of sustainability plans and coordination with other flood and water management plans. Other priority action areas include diversifying local water supply portfolios, maximizing water conservation and water use efficiency, and improving storm water management for groundwater recharge. Communities must identify priorities and goals around conservation, efficiency, and alternative sources that are commensurate with their local needs and goals. Finally, many disadvantaged communities already have problems securing safe water and sanitation, and they are unlikely to have the capacity to deal with additional challenges to water quality and availability in the face of climate change. Prioritizing aid and planning for these communities is critical for public health and the overall well-being of California’s communities.

All Resources for Water


Annual Hydroclimate Report

Office of the State Climatologist of California. 2016
Drought Extreme heat Extreme storms Sea level rise Snowpack Temperature Wildfire
Assessment Data, tools, and research
The Hydroclimate Report Water Year 2016 updates the 2015 report with data from Water Year 2016. This report includes key indicators for hydrology and climate in California and is updated annually with the newest available data to track important trends, provide a compilation of indicators, and provide graphical visualization of data trends that are of interest to water managers, the media, State government, and the research community. The report provides information on annual precipitation, annual air temperature, snowpack, rain and snow trends, sea levels and more.

California Water Action Plan 2016 Update

California Natural Resources Agency. 2016
Drought
Plan or strategy
The California Water Action Plan – originally released by the administration of Governor Brown in January 2014 – is a roadmap for the first five years of the state’s journey toward sustainable water management. The 2016 update reflects both considerable progress toward and reaffirmation of the goals first set forth in January 2014. The Brown Administration has used this Water Action Plan as the roadmap to put California on a path to sustainable water management. It provided the foundation for Proposition 1, the 2014 water bond, and the administration’s legislative agenda.

California’s Groundwater, Bulletin 118: Interim Update 2016

California Department of Water Resources. 2018
Drought Snowpack
Data, tools, and research
Bulletin 118 is California’s official compendium on the occurrence and nature of groundwater statewide. Bulletin 118 defines the boundaries and describes the hydrologic characteristics of California’s groundwater basins. Bulletin 118 also provides information on groundwater management and recommendations for the future.

Central Valley Project and State Water Project 2016 Drought Contingency Plan For Water Project Operations

California Department of Water Resources. 2016
Drought Snowpack
Assessment Planning and policy guidance
This 2016 Drought Contingency Plan for the Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) water operations from February to November 2016 includes a quantitative analysis of modeled hydrology for 2016 including 50%, 90%, and 99 % exceedance scenarios based on the January 1, 2016 hydrologic scenarios and potential operations based on these analyses. This plan aids in quantifying the magnitude of available reservoir water resources under various hydrologic scenarios. The primary goals of the plan are to achieve a balance between reservoir storage for water supply and resource conservation, meet essential human health and safety needs, manage the intrusion of salt water into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and provide and maintain adequate protections for State and Federal endangered and threatened species and other fish and wildlife resources.

City of Atascadero Climate Action Plan

City of Atascadero. 2014
Extreme storms Temperature Wildfire
Plan or strategy
Chapter 4 of the 2014 City of Atascadero Climate Action Plan includes adaptation measures such as collaboration between agencies, the creation of policies, water conservation, and assessing climate impacts for temperature, extreme storms, wildfire.

Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning

California Department of Water Resources. 2011
Drought Snowpack
Planning and policy guidance
The Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning provides a framework for considering climate change in water management planning. Key decision considerations, resources, tools, and decision options are presented that can guide resource managers and planners as they develop means of adapting their programs to a changing climate. The handbook uses DWR's Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) planning framework as a model into which analysis of climate change impacts and planning for adaptation and mitigation can be integrated. A useful resource in this handbook is the Vulnerability Assessment Checklist found in Appendix B.

Creating Resilient Water Utilities (CRWU)

United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2017
Drought Extreme storms Flooding Sea level rise
The CRWU initiative provides drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities with practical tools, training and technical assistance needed to increase resilience to extreme weather events. Through a comprehensive planning process, CRWU assists water utilities by promoting a clear understanding of potential long-term adaptation options.

Department of Water Resources Best Management Practices

Department of Water Resources. 2016
Drought
Planning and policy guidance
DWR published best management practices and selected guidance documents in December 2016 to help groundwater sustainability agencies and other stakeholders develop groundwater sustainability plans. These documents will be updated periodically as better information becomes available.

Madera Irrigation Water Efficiency - Safeguarding California Example

California Natural Resources Agency. 2018
Drought
Project or Example
California state agencies collaborated to compile each of these examples, associated with Safeguarding California's 2018 update, to show how California is preparing for and adjusting to various extreme events brought on by climate change. Each of these examples highlights unique strategies, funded by the state, to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change. The examples are tagged with icons from the Safeguarding California Report, classifying stories by sector. In this example, water efficiency was improved in Madera County, to ultimately conserve landscape irrigation water and build resilience to drought and water scarcity.

Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Program - Safeguarding California Example

California Natural Resources Agency. 2018
Flooding Sea level rise
Project or Example
California state agencies collaborated to compile each of these examples, associated with Safeguarding California's 2018 update, to show how California is preparing for and adjusting to various extreme events brought on by climate change. Each of these examples highlights unique strategies, funded by the state, to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change. The examples are tagged with icons from the Safeguarding California Report, classifying stories by sector. This example highlights the Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Program, a collaborative sea level rise adaptation planning program building local and regional capacity in the San Francisco Bay area to plan for and implement adaptation responses.