California State Water Board - Resolution No. 2017 - Comprehensive Response to Climate Change

On March 7, 2017, California's State Water Resources Control Board adopted a resolution to integrate climate change comprehensively into its programs and decisionmaking, including drinking water regulation, water quality initiatives, and financial assistance. The resolution creates new requirements for divisions within the State Water Board that will help the agency achieve goals relating to adaptation, ecosystem resilience, water use and efficiency, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Many of the actions directed by the resolution promote conservation and better use of water resources, improved ecosystem resilience, and consideration of climate change impacts in assessments and permitting or other project decisions:

  • Require annual reporting of recycled water use as part of waste discharge permits and reclamation requirements, and develop an online system for tracking recycled water use.
  • Develop a methodology to estimate the amount of stormwater captured and used statewide, and to summarize information in annual performance reporting.
  • Various divisions are ordered to update plans, permits, and policies in order to advance ecosystem resilience, such as through headwater protection, enhanced carbon sequestration, and reduced vulnerability to fires.
  • Climate change impacts will be included in future analyses and ecosystem assessments.
  • The Division of Water Quality and the Regional Water Boards should coordinate to identify actions that will incentivize nature-based shoreline protection and ocean and coastal ecosystem resilience.
  • The Division of Drinking Water (DDW) will begin including climate change vulnerability assessments in community water system sanitary surveys, and DDW will provide technical and financial assistance to help protect drinking water systems that are highly vulnerable to climate change, particularly within disadvantaged communities. DDW is also directed to evaluate and recommend changes to siting criteria and standards for new drinking water systems, based on climate change projections.
  • State Water Board staff are directed to refer to the most recent sea-level rise projections and guidance in making recommendations on permits or other decisions affecting coastal infrastructure, wetlands, and near-shore ecosystems.

The resolution also includes actions designed to incorporate climate change into funding considerations, such as:

  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation objectives will be incorporated into Intended Use Plans for State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs for both clean water and drinking water.
  • Ensure that project applications and environmental reviews account for climate change impacts, including the extent to which climate change may affect a project's viability.
  • To the extent feasible, prioritize and coordinate funding of studies that can help implement adaptation and mitigation actions.

Additional actions directed by the resolution are designed to improve outreach and education relating to climate change and water resources, and to improve program administration through implementation tracking, performance measures, and other methods. The resolution's requirements apply primarily to divisions within the State Water Board, but the resolution also encourages Regional Water Boards across California to undertake many of these actions as well.

The resolution builds on a variety of previous climate change activities, including a 2007 State Water Board resolution that established initial actions for addressing climate change, and the more recent development of the California Water Action Plan Update. It also helps the agency respond to statewide directives, including Executive Order B-30-15, which directed state agencies to integrate climate change into planning and investment, and Executive Order B-37-16, which directed the State Water Board and state Department of Water Resources to take actions to require and promote more efficient use of water resources and greater water conservation.

Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Related Organizations:

  • California State Water Resources Control Board

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  • Agency guidance/policy

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