, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 315-329
Date: 27 Oct 2006

Integrating a Climate Change Assessment Tool into Stakeholder-Driven Water Management Decision-Making Processes in California

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Abstract

There is an emerging consensus in the scientific community that climate change has the potential to significantly alter prevailing hydrologic patterns in California over the course of the 21st Century. This is of profound importance for a system where large investments have been made in hydraulic infrastructure that has been designed and is operated to harmonize dramatic temporal and spatial water supply and water demand variability. Recent work by the authors led to the creation of an integrated hydrology/water management climate change impact assessment framework that can be used to identify tradeoffs between important ecosystem services provided by the California water system associated with future climate change and to evaluate possible adaptation strategies. In spite of the potential impact of climate change, and the availability of a tool for investigating its dimensions, actual water management decision-making processes in California have yet to fully integrate climate change analysis into their planning dialogues. This paper presents an overview of decision-making processes ranked based on the application of a 3S: Sensitivity, Significance, and Stakeholder support, standard, which demonstrates that while climate change is a crucial factor in virtually all water-related decision making in California, it has not typically been considered, at least in any analytical sense. The three highest ranked processes are described in more detail, in particular the role that the new analytical framework could play in arriving at more resilient water management decisions. The authors will engage with stakeholders in these three processes, in hope of moving climate change research from the academic to the policy making arena.