California is at risk for catastrophic flooding that could have wide-ranging impacts due to the size of its economy and the number of people residing in the state. The State’s economy ranks ninth globally; therefore, the consequences associated with its potential exposure to property damage, economic harm, and loss of life are great.
California is the nation’s most populous state, ranks third largest in land size, and has widely varying climates and topographies, all of which make developing one-size-fits-all solutions to flood risk management impracticable.
In California, 20 percent of the almost 38 million residents live within 500-year floodplains (i.e., have a 0.2 percent chance of flooding in a given year). Four of the nation’s 15 largest cities are in California (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco), and all are at risk for some type of flooding. These factors make decisions regarding California’s flood risk management policies and financial investments vital to the State and the nation.
This report, California’s Flood Future: Recommendations for Managing the State’s Flood Risk (Flood Future Report) presents an overview of the flood threats facing the state, approaches for reducing flood risk, and recommendations for managing California’s flood risk. The Flood Future Report is the first statewide report to be developed through collaboration between the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). As a joint report by the State and Federal governments, the document represents an unprecedented level of intergovernmental cooperation, including tribal entities.1 Additionally, this report would not have been possible without the participation of and information shared by more than 140 local flood management agencies.
The Flood Future Report represents the first characterization of flood management activities and exposure to flood hazard throughout each county and hydrologic region of the state. This statewide assessment is intended to provide valuable information for local, State, and Federal decision makers as they chart California’s complex flood management future.