Climatic Change

, Volume 111, Issue 1, pp 17–44 | Cite as

Adapting California’s water management to climate change

Article

Abstract

California faces significant water management challenges from climate change, affecting water supply, aquatic ecosystems, and flood risks. Fortunately, the state also possesses adaptation tools and institutional capabilities that can limit vulnerability to changing conditions. Water supply managers have begun using underground storage, water transfers, conservation, recycling, and desalination to meet changing demands. These same tools are promising options for responding to a wide range of climate changes. Likewise, many staples of flood management—including reservoir operations, levees, bypasses, insurance, and land-use regulation—are available for the challenges of increased floods. Yet actions are also needed to improve response capacity. For water supply, a central issue is the management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where new conveyance, habitat investments, and regulations are needed to sustain water supplies and protect endangered fish species. For flood management, among the least-examined aspects of water management with climate change, needed reforms include forward-looking reservoir operation planning and floodplain mapping, less restrictive rules for raising local funds, and improved public information on flood risks. For water quality, an urgent priority is better science. Although local agencies are central players, adaptation will require strong-willed state leadership to shape institutions, incentives, and regulations capable of responding to change. Federal cooperation often will be essential.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work has benefitted from long-term discussions and interactions with many in California’s diverse water community. In particular, we thank Tam Doduc, Eric Simmons, and Edwin S. Townsley for helpful discussions on flood and water quality management, and John Andrew, Anthony Brunello, Guido Franco, David Groves, Susi Moser, Jeffrey Mount, Michael Teitz, Edwin S. Townsley, Lynette Ubois, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful reviews of an earlier draft. Funding for this work was provided by Next Ten, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and The Nature Conservancy. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff, officers, or Board of Directors of the Public Policy Institute of California.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Policy Institute of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Center for Watershed SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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