For California water managers, the future is now. Climate change is already having a profound impact on water resources as evidenced by changes in snowpack, river flows and sea levels.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) will continue to play a leadership role in adapting to these changes. DWR is already engaged in a number of efforts designed to improve California’s ability to cope with a changing climate.
However, more must be done. This report recommends a series of adaptation strategies for state and local water managers to improve their capacity to handle change. Many of the strategies will also help adapt our water resources to accommodate non-climate demands including a growing population, ecosystem restoration and greater flood protection.
Several of the recommendations in this report are ready for immediate adoption, while others need additional public deliberation and development. Some can be implemented using existing resources and authority, while the majority will require new resources, sustained financial investment and significant collaborative effort.
Many of California’s most important water resource investments remain dependent on bond funding approved by voters. As a result, they are well funded in some years, but underfunded in most. This history of uneven and irregular investment has delayed progress in areas that have the potential to yield substantial gains over short periods of time.
DWR presents this report as part of the process of updating the California Water Plan, and as part of the California Resources Agency’s draft statewide Climate Adaptation Plan. Overall, this report urges a new approach to managing California’s water and other natural resources in the face of a changing climate.