This page describes the progress California state agencies are making toward meeting the goals set forth in the state’s plans, and in response to state legislation and executive orders.
The 2009 California Adaptation Strategy (“2009 Plan”) included a total of 345 discrete goals related to climate change adaptation covering the sectors of agriculture, biodiversity, coasts and the ocean, forestry, infrastructure (energy and transportation), public health, water, and cross-sectoral goals. The 2014 Safeguarding Plan (“2014 Safeguarding Plan”) included a total of 267 discrete goals across nine sectors including: agriculture, biodiversity and habitat, emergency management, energy, forestry, ocean and coastal ecosystems and resources, public health, transportation, and water. The 2018 Update to the Safeguarding Plan (“2018 Safeguarding Plan”) includes 457 discrete goals covering 10 sectors across two categories Social Systems and the Built Environment (emergency preparedness, energy, land use and community development, public health, and transportation) and Natural and Managed Resource Systems (agriculture, biodiversity and habitat, forests, ocean and coasts, and water). The 2018 Safeguarding Plan also includes an overarching Climate Justice chapter that identifies how equity principles are woven throughout the entire plan and its recommendations. For each sector, the 2018 Safeguarding Plan describes ongoing actions in the state, high-level recommendations to guide future action, and next steps. A supplement to the 2018 update features 33 case studies of successful adaptation projects that are being implemented in communities across the state across all sectors.
The following section provides highlights of innovative practices and programs that the state has pursued in different sectors to implement recommendations in the state’s adaptation plans. For more detailed discussions of ongoing state activities to prepare for climate impacts, see the sector-specific descriptions of "ongoing actions" in the 2018 Safeguarding Plan.
Agricultural goals in the both 2009 and 2014 plans call for the preservation of farmland; acquisition of floodplain and wetlands easements on agricultural lands to maintain flood conveyance and protective buffers; development of best practices for reducing risks to and emissions from the agricultural sector; enhanced efforts to detect and address invasive species and pests; increased support for water conservation and stewardship activities for agricultural water supplies; and increased cross-sectoral collaborations in sectors affecting agriculture (water, energy, biodiversity and ecosystems, and transportation).
After the adoption of the 2009 Plan, the state created the Agriculture Working Group Climate Action Team to coordinate adaptation efforts among state agencies working in the agricultural sector.
The state administers several grant programs to support adaptation projects on farm and ranch lands. To facilitate adoption of climate-smart farming practices, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Healthy Soils Initiative is providing financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to implement best management practices that improve soil health and sequester carbon (such as use of cover crops and conservation tillage practices). To help increase diversity of crops, CDFA is prioritizing grants that contribute to adaptation through its Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which provides grants to enhance the competitiveness of California’s speciality crops (such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.), including projects that expand environmental stewardship and conservation. To enhance water conservation in farming practices, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) offers grants for irrigation and energy efficiency improvements on farms. The California Energy Commission also provides grants through the Water Energy Technology program to support adoption of technologies that reduce water and energy use in the agricultural sector (e.g., low-pressure drip irrigation systems).
In 2013, CDFA’s Climate Change Consortium for Speciality Crops also produced a report on Impacts and Strategies for Resilience, which examines adaptation strategies for growers of speciality crops in the state. The report examines adaptation strategies for a range of impacts that are anticipated for California’s agricultural sector, including temperature changes, extreme heat, drought, reduced water supply, saltwater intrusion, flooding, and invasive species and pests. Adaptation strategies discussed include: switching to crops that are better adapted to increasing temperatures; installing shading structures; altering planting and harvesting schedules; deploying water conservation practices; improving regional water planning; recharging groundwater; investing in water recycling; and conserving habitats for pollinators. The report also summarizes research needs and potential pilot projects that the state could fund to enhance resilience in the agricultural sector, such as research on drought-tolerant crops, regulatory barriers to groundwater recharge projects, and the economic feasibility of desalination projects and water recycling projects.
To address agricultural threats posed by invasive species that will be exacerbated by climate change, the state has undertaken several initiatives to increase the effectiveness of state-wide detection. The state convened the Invasive Species Council, which released a report, Stopping the Spread, that provides recommendations on controlling invasive species. The state also developed the CalWeedMapper tool and has funded other research to develop methods for detecting incursions of invasive species. The state has also developed a pest reporting app that allows users to photograph and report suspected harmful pests to state and local agriculture officials.
The state is also working to expand energy options for the agricultural sector. Through the Dairy Digester Research and Development program, state agencies are working to remove barriers to the use of anaerobic digesters on California dairy farms. Digesters capture methane from animal waste to create a renewable energy source. Dairy farms can also sell the energy to diversify their income streams.
To facilitate farmland conservation, the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) provides grants to cities and counties to encourage farmland conservation through the Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation Program, which enhances food security and the environmental and economic benefits contributed by agricultural lands. CDFA also produced Benefits of Farmland Conservation in California, a white paper on the mitigation and adaptation benefits of conserving agricultural lands. In September 2016, SGC also released a report, Vibrant Communities and Landscapes: A Vision for California in 2050, to facilitate discussion on strategies for enhancing conservation of natural landscapes and more sustainable land use and development patterns.
State legislation has also been passed to promote climate-smart farming practices. The Water Conservation Act of 2009 (SB X7-7) requires agricultural water suppliers to adopt Agricultural Water Management Plans and consider adopting Efficient Water Management Practices. To help water suppliers develop plans, DWR produced a Guidebook, which provides details on assessing how climate change will affect the state’s future water supply. DWR is also tracking the adoption of plans through the Agricultural Water Use Efficiency Program. In 2014, the legislature passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to monitor groundwater withdrawals and to enhance management of groundwater supplies to ensure sustainability.
Goals in the 2009 and 2014 plans addressing biodiversity and habitats include recommendations that the state: improve understanding of climate risks to the state’s biodiversity and habitats; develop best management practices for addressing climate risks for species and ecosystems; enhance monitoring to detect climate impacts to biodiversity; enhance environmental stewardship across sectors; and enhance education and outreach opportunities with the public.
To encourage cross-sectoral coordination to address climate impacts to fish, wildlife, and habitats, the state established a Biodiversity Work Group Climate Action Team to facilitate interagency cooperation (e.g., among the Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Forestry, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, and Water Resources), and a Biodiversity Climate Stakeholder Group to engage nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, federal agency partners, private industry, and local land trusts.
In its 2015 update, the state also incorporated consideration of climate change into its State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). SWAP identifies at-risk species and habitats and provides strategies for addressing climate impacts. As part of the SWAP update, the state also developed Companion Plans to provide strategies for reducing impacts to biodiversity from other sectors (transportation, agriculture, energy, recreation, forests, land use, water, etc.). To facilitate SWAP’s development, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) created online interactive maps of Areas of Conservation Emphasis (ACE) to help direct conservation priorities based upon the relative value of the state’s biological resources. The ACE viewer provides data about species diversity, rarity, and sensitive habitats and other spatial data such as stressors, protected status of lands, and connectivity corridors.
The state is using climate information to inform the development of conservation strategies and permit conditions for projects affecting species listed under the California Endangered Species Act.
State grant programs provide support for adaptation initiatives to preserve biodiversity and habitats. For example, CDFW created the Wetland Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant Program, which directs cap-and-trade proceeds to wetland restoration projects that can help sequester carbon.
CDFW is changing how it manages habitats and state lands to adapt to climate impacts. For example, the agency has shifted how it manages fish hatcheries to adapt to climate impacts, including changes in water temperatures, water quality, and hydrology. CDFW has also produced case studies of efforts to incorporate considerations of climate adaptation in management and conservation activities, including examples of adaptation activities at Elkhorn Slough, the South Bay Salt Ponds, and the Tijuana Estuary.
Additionally, state agencies have changed criteria for new land acquisitions to include considerations of climate adaptation, enhanced connectivity, and creation of wildlife corridors. For example, California State Coastal Conservancy’s Climate Ready Program funds natural infrastructure projects to protect and enhance coastal ecosystems and protect communities from the impacts of sea-level rise. State agencies are also undertaking restoration activities to improve connectivity for species and ecosystems, including removing dams to enhance fish passage. And the Department of Fish and Wildlife and CalTrans collaborated on the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project to map blocks of habitat and natural landscapes to inform state land acquisition efforts to create wildlife corridors.
The state is also considering climate impacts in management and restoration efforts for specific ecosystems. For example, the Delta Plan (adopted in 2013) includes consideration of climate risks to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and prioritizes restoration projects that can help species and habitats adapt to changes in sea levels.
To facilitate education and research, CDFW created a Climate College to educate staff and partners on potential climate impacts to the state’s biodiversity. And a Climate Science Alliance in the South Coast region of the state brings state and local agencies together with natural resource managers, academia, and scientists to develop ecosystem-based resilience approaches.
Coasts & Oceans
Goals in the 2009 and 2014 plans related to coasts and oceans include recommendations that the state: identify high priority wetlands and habitats for acquisition, conservation, and restoration; develop funding criteria to ensure that coastal projects account for future climate change; develop statewide decision guidance to help state agencies and local governments produce adaptation plans and integrate climate consideration, like sea-level rise, in decisionmaking; support innovating pilot projects for addressing sea-level rise risks; develop a hazard avoidance policy to prevent new development in areas at risk of flooding and erosion because of climate change; and improve research, data, and tools on sea-level rise scenarios and vulnerabilities.
To coordinate activities related to coastal adaptation, the Coastal and Ocean Resources Working Group brings together state agencies with a role in managing or overseeing ocean and coastal resources, including the the California Coastal Commission, State Coastal Conservancy, State Lands Commission, Ocean Protection Council, and Bay Conservation and Development Commission, among others.
State agencies have also been working to develop guidance to ensure that state planning and investment decisions account for future sea-level rise. In March 2018, the California Ocean Protection Council adopted updated sea-level rise guidance, which is used by state agencies and local governments in assessing vulnerabilities and planning for infrastructure resilience. The new guidance, which updates the 2013 version, includes improved sea-level-rise projections including an extreme-rise scenario based on polar ice sheet loss (which is designed to be considered for high-stakes, long-term decisions). The guidance also includes step-by-step instructions for evaluating risk based on sea-level-rise science and incorporating these considerations into project planning and decisionmaking. In addition, it provides recommendations for adaptation planning, such as ensuring that adaptation actions prioritize social equity and environmental justice. The guidance was informed by a National Academy of Sciences study of the effects of sea-level rise on California, Oregon, and Washington coasts in 2012. Based upon this updated sea-level rise information, the California Coastal Commission is also updating its 2015 Sea-Level Rise Policy Guidance, which provides the methodology used by the Commission to account for future sea-level rise in Commission planning and permitting.
State agencies administering grants affecting coasts have also updated funding guidance to require consideration of climate change scenarios (per recommendations in the state’s 2009 Plan). The State Coastal Conservancy and Ocean Protection Council updated their funding guidance to include consideration of future sea-level rise. The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) has also made changes to its grant criteria to account for climate change (see discussion in the California Wildlife Conservation Board’s 2014 Strategic Plan). In 2015, the State Coastal Conservancy produced a series of reports and case studies on funded projects using natural infrastructure for coastal adaptation to sea-level rise to help coastal managers identify natural infrastructure techniques, such as living shorelines, for enhancing coastal resilience. The state is also funding a variety of sea-level rise adaptation pilot projects. For example, the State Coastal Conservancy is supporting a managed retreat project at Surfers Point in Ventura County to relocate a bike path and parking lot inland as a result of erosion in an effort to preserve public access to the beach and restore dune habitats. The State Coastal Conservancy is also supporting restoration efforts at the South Bay Salt Ponds in Silicon Valley to take advantage of natural processes to improve flood management.
State agencies are also developing plans to ensure that state management decisions account for future climate risks to coastal resources. For example, the state developed a Sediment Master Plan to facilitate the best use of sediment resources to address coastal erosion and maintain public access to state beaches.
California is also supporting research on how climate will affect coastal and ocean resources to inform future state actions. For example, the state supported development of an Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Study (as required by AB 2139) to assess the threat of ocean acidification for states along the Pacific coast and to identify management actions that can be taken to adapt. The state has also invested in monitoring marine protected areas to assess climate impacts to marine resources and the effectiveness of adaptation measures.
The state also commissioned a report to inform the management of fisheries in the face of climate change, Readying California Fisheries for Climate Change, which was authored by a working group of the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team and the California Ocean Science Trust.
California voters have also approved bond measures to provide funding for sea-level rise and climate preparedness projects. In June 2018, voters approved Proposition 68 authorizing over $4 billion in general obligation bonds to fund natural resource conservation and resilience ($1.55 billion), parks and recreation ($1.28 billion), and water projects ($1.27 billion), including $443 for climate preparedness and habitat resiliency, and $550 million for flood protection.
In October 2013, the state legislature passed AB 691, requiring consideration of sea-level rise impacts to public trust lands, such as beaches. And the State Lands Commission provided guidance and tools to help local trustees of public trust lands assess risks and develop plans to address sea-level-rise impacts.
Goals in the 2009 and 2014 plans related to the forestry sector include recommendations that the state: implement adaptive management and invest in vegetation management approaches to enhance the resilience of forests; develop best practices for and encourage investments in biomass utilization and energy production; improve land-use planning and building codes to reduce wildfire risks; expand detection of pests and diseases; encourage development of fire management plans; improve long-term seed banks and nurseries to secure genetic materials; support urban forestry; and fill research gaps regarding tree mortality, forest bioenergy, and forest carbon sequestration.
The state coordinates adaptation activities through different working groups and task forces. An Interagency Forest Working Group coordinates state adaptation efforts related to forestlands. A Forest Biomass Working Group was convened to explore opportunities for encouraging forest biomass utilization. In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown established a Tree Mortality Task Force of state and local agencies and other stakeholders needed to enhance forest resilience in the face of tree deaths from the drought. And in January 2018, Governor Brown also created a Forest Management Task Force to examine forest management practices for adapting to increased wildfire risks and enhancing carbon storage of the state’s forestlands.
The state has incorporated adaptation considerations in numerous state plans and developed plans to enhance resilience of the state’s public and private forests. To encourage wood product utilization, as recommended by the 2009 Plan, the state released a Bioenergy Action Plan in August 2012, which discusses strategies for generating energy from feedstocks and biomass including animal waste, plant residue, energy crops, yard and food waste, landfill emissions, and wastewater emissions. The Bioenergy Action Plan includes recommendations to identify and promote small-scale forest biomass projects that reduce fire hazards and provide renewable energy. In 2013, the state adopted its updated California State Hazard Mitigation Plan (SHMP) which addresses statewide vulnerabilities to increased risks of flooding and wildfires from climate change. In April 2016, the state adopted an updated State Fire Plan with an increased focus on strategies for reducing increased wildfire risks as a result of climate change. In 2018, the state released the California Forest Carbon Plan, which identifies actions for improving the resilience of forestlands in the state and ensuring that they function reliably as long-term carbon sinks. When announcing the plan’s adoption, Governor Brown also called for a budget revision requesting $96 million in additional funds to support actions directed by the Forest Carbon Plan (and Executive Order B-52-18, described below).
The state is also administering numerous grant programs to support initiatives to enhance forest resilience. For example, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s (CAL FIRE) Forest Health Initiative provides grants (funded by cap-and-trade proceeds) to restore forest health to reduce wildfire risks, protect water supply, and promote long-term storage of carbon. Grants are provided for reforestation, fuel reduction, pest management, biomass utilization, conservation, and research. CAL FIRE also supports investments in urban forestry, with a priority for grants to disadvantaged communities, through its Urban and Community Forestry Program. CAL FIRE has also worked to improve seed banks and nurseries to preserve the genetic materials of native species and the agency is also acquiring conservation easements on private forestlands. The California Energy Commission is directing $9 million in research for bioenergy projects. Finally, the Interagency Forest Work Group is working to define sustainable forest biomass utilization for energy.
CAL FIRE also maintains the California Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP), which analyzes the fire conditions of the state's forests and rangelands, identifies risk areas, and provides guidelines on alternative management strategies.
The state has also taken regulatory actions to allow forest management activities that reduce wildfire risks. For example, in May 2015, the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection issued emergency regulations allowing the removal of trees within 300 feet of a habitable structures.
To address the connections between forest and watershed health, the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) is also funding a sustainability study for the Mokelumne Watershed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the primary source of water supply for the San Francisco Bay Area region (called “MokeWISE”). The study looks at the intersections between forest management, water supply, and water quality and identifies options for enhancing watershed health through forest management practices.
California has also completed research and developed tools to monitor the health of the state’s forests. For example, CAL FIRE developed a Tree Mortality Viewer to map areas with high-levels of tree mortality to help managers prioritize forest management activities and reduce wildfire risks.
The California legislature has also enacted several laws generating funding sources to support adaptation in the forestry sector:
Governor Brown has also issued executive orders in response to tree mortality from the drought and recent severe wildfire seasons. In October 2015, Governor Brown issued a State of Emergency Proclamation on Tree Mortality requiring state agencies to identify high hazard zones and prioritize tree removal of hazardous trees. In May 2018, Governor Brown signed Executive Order B-52-18 to address increasing wildfire threats through improved forest management and carbon sequestration. That executive order calls for actions to increase forest thinning and other active land management actions, reduce regulatory burdens for projects that improve forest health and forest-fire fuels reduction on private lands, and increase training and education opportunities to inform forest managers and landowners.
The 2009 and 2014 plans included goals for enhancing the resilience of energy and transportation systems, including recommendations that the state: assess the impacts of climate change on infrastructure systems; protect facilities, assets, and users; diversify energy supplies and increase energy efficiency; develop an energy use “hotspot” map and identify the communities most vulnerable to power outages; provide training and guidance to transportation officials on how to incorporate climate impacts into transportation planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance; protect key evacuation routes; and install smart grid and microgrid technologies; among other recommendations.
To facilitate adaptation actions across state agencies, two Climate Action Team Working Groups address impacts to infrastructure: the Land Use and Infrastructure Working Group, and the Water-Energy Working Group.
EO B-30-15 called for climate change to be considered in the State Infrastructure Plan and in all state planning and investment decisions. To implement these requirements, a Technical Advisory Group was convened to develop guidance for state agencies. And in November 2017, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research released Planning and Investing for a Resilient California: A Guidebook for State Agencies. The Guidebook provides a step-by-step process for how state agencies can consider climate impacts in infrastructure planning, design, and feasibility studies, among other decisions. The Guidebook also includes an equity checklist to help state agencies ensure that plans and investment decisions are prioritizing those most at risk to the impacts of climate change.
In September 2016, the state legislature also passed AB 2800 requiring that the planning and design of state infrastructure projects consider future climate change impacts (including prolonged heat waves, extreme precipitation, severe drought, increasing wildfires, and rising sea levels). The law called for a Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group to be convened to guide the state on how to incorporate considerations of climate change in the planning, design, building, operations, and maintenance of state infrastructure. The working group includes engineers, architects, climate scientists, and other experts from CalTrans, Department of General Services, Department of Water Resources, California Energy Commission, and several universities and other organizations. In September 2018, the Working Group released its report making recommendations on how to integrate climate science in the design and maintenance of infrastructure, Paying it Forward: the Path Toward Climate-Safe Infrastructure in California.
On transportation, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) has been assessing the vulnerabilities of the state’s transportation systems. CalTrans is conducting a vulnerability assessment of the state’s highway system looking at increased risks from flooding, landslides, sea-level rise, extreme heat, and wildfires, and has released regional vulnerability assessments for District 1(Hulmboldt, Mendocino, Del Norte, and Lake counties) and District 4 (San Francisco Bay area counties). In 2013, CalTrans released a report on the agency’s activities addressing climate change (both adaptation and mitigation).
CalTrans also incorporated climate resilience into the state’s Long-Range Transportation Plan, California Transportation Plan 2040. The Plan includes performance-based strategies for investing in the state’s transportation infrastructure including an element on climate resiliency. Climate resiliency is also factored into the state’s Five-Year Infrastructure Plan governing state investments in infrastructure. Caltrans’s 2015-2020 Strategic Management Plan also indicates that climate resiliency factors will be used to prioritize investments through the State Transportation Improvement Program.
CalTrans has also started developing strategies and guidance for addressing specific climate impacts to transportation systems. In 2011, CalTrans issued guidance on incorporating sea-level rise in the planning and design of transportation infrastructure projects. In 2017, the state also published a life-cycle assessment and analysis of the co-benefits of cool pavements as a strategy for reducing urban heat islands. Cool pavements (light colored or permeable pavements) absorb less sunlight than conventional pavements and, therefore, help to reduce surface and air temperatures in cities. Pursuant to AB 296, CalTrans and California Environmental Protection Agency must develop standard specifications for using cool pavements as a strategy for mitigating urban heat islands.
The state has also been supporting adaptation projects to address potential impacts to transportation assets. For example, CalTrans relocated a three-mile segment of Highway 1 at Piedras Blancas in San Luis Obispo County.
On energy, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) has been working with utilities to assess vulnerabilities and enhance the resilience of the electrical grid. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission released a report encouraging utilities to assess risks to and evaluate the full range of adaptation measures to protect utilities assets, the system as a whole, and customers. This report is designed to help energy utilities that are working to assess the vulnerability of energy infrastructure and develop resilience plans through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience. As part of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, many research projects are also underway to assess the vulnerability of critical emergency management infrastructure, the impacts of wildfire and extreme heat on the grid, and risks to natural gas systems. The California Energy Commission (CEC) also supports research on potential climate impacts to energy systems. For example, CEC is developing a Microgrid Roadmap to facilitate deployment of resilient microgrid systems.
CPUC has also mandated that utilities take action to protect against climate impacts to the grid. For example, after heatwaves in 2006, CPUC required utilities to upgrade grid infrastructure to allow for the cooling of transformers and to ensure reliable electricity. California utilities have also begun to make investments to adapt energy infrastructure to climate impacts. For example, the Safeguarding Implementation Action Plan (at p. 73) for the energy sector describes efforts by San Diego Gas and Electric to relocate and redesign a substation to protect against eight feet of sea-level rise and investments by other utilities to replace wood utility poles with steel poles to protect against wildfire risk.
To diversify the state’s mix of renewable energy sources, the state developed a Bioenergy Action Plan to facilitate the use of biomass (forest and wood waste, agricultural and food waste, landfill gases, etc.). The Plan identifies barriers to bioenergy development and strategies for advancing bioenergy production. Similarly, the state is also taking action to increase energy efficiency as an adaptation strategy for enhancing grid reliability. In 2016, CEC updated its Existing Building Energy Efficiency Action Plan to layout strategies for enhancing the energy efficiency of existing residential, commercial, and public buildings.
The state is also funding projects to enhance the resilience of energy systems. Through the Electric Program Investment Charge, CEC has funded microgrid demonstration projects for a wastewater treatment facility, hospital, and a fire station. Microgrids enhance community resilience to power outages because they are powered by renewable sources and can disconnect from the larger grid during outages and maintain power for a facility or grouping of facilities. CEC is also funding energy storage and electrical vehicle charging stations as a strategy for enhancing grid reliability. The Department of Community Services and Development (DCSD) is providing funding for energy efficiency, rooftop solar, and weatherization projects for low-income households in disadvantaged communities.
In April 2017, California approved SB 1, a transportation funding bill creating a new $52.3 billion program for transportation and transit infrastructure and maintenance, including $20 million for local and regional agencies to support adaptation planning. The law directs CalTrans and other local transportation agencies receiving funds through a new Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program to include cost-effective adaptation features in projects. It also requires CalTrans to update the Highway Design Manual to incorporate "complete streets" design concepts.
Public Health &
Goals in the 2009 and 2014 plans related to public health include recommendations that the state: expand training and build capacity of local health departments; incorporate climate change and public health messages in existing education and outreach efforts; expand access to healthy foods and promote local food systems; develop a comprehensive funding strategy for public health adaptation; promote increased access to health care; develop guidelines for health impact assessments; increase urban forests and remove impervious surfaces in urban areas to reduce heat islands; increase capacity to monitor climate-related deaths and illnesses; conduct outreach to vulnerable populations (e.g., outdoor works, people with asthma, immigrations with literacy/language needs); and improve community planning.
State agencies coordinate on adaptation in the public health sector through several different Climate Action Teams. The Climate Action Team (CAT) Research Working Group includes representatives from a variety of state agencies coordinating on climate change research and includes representatives from the California Department of Public Health. The Public Health Climate Action Team also has components developing research and program evaluation recommendations.
The state produced guidance to help local and regional health departments assess and develop strategies to address climate-related public health impacts. The California Department of Public Health published Integrating Public Health into Climate Action Planning, a guide that identifies mitigation and adaptation strategies and co-benefits. The California Adaptation Planning Guide also includes climate and public health considerations.
The state expanded its Health Tracking Program to include a set of climate change and health indicators recommended by the National Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. The state developed guidance and recommendations for how to prepare for extreme heat. The California Public Health Department has also begun collecting data of heat-related hospitalizations and deaths.
California also promotes a Health in All Policies approach for evaluating health, equity, sustainability considerations into state decisionmaking across sectors and policy areas (such as transportation, urban greening, and community safety and violence prevention). The approach helps the state address the health challenges posed by climate change and health inequities between populations across a range of state programs, policies and investments.
The state is funding research to improve understanding of how climate change will exacerbate threats to public health. The Third California Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA) featured studies on the exposure and vulnerabilities of communities to climate impacts. As part of developing the third assessment, the California Energy Commission produced a white paper on Social Vulnerability to Climate Change in California (July 2012) that used 19 indicators to assess vulnerability including air conditioner ownership, childhood obesity, tree cover, pre-term births, workers in outdoor occupations, and others. Maps were produced showing areas with the greatest vulnerability across a range of climate-change impacts including heat, air quality, infectious diseases, wildfires, and flooding. The California Public Health Department's Environmental Health Tracking Program has also developed vulnerability assessment screening methods, which include environmental justice metrics that were piloted in Fresno and Los Angeles counties. The State Hazard Mitigation Plan also includes discussion of the risk of vector-borne diseases and the effects of climate change on public health.
The state legislature has also passed laws to address impacts from extreme heat. In 2012, the legislature passed the Cool Pavements Bill (AB 296) to promote the use of materials that can be used to reduce extreme heat in urban areas.
The 2014 plan included numerous goals relating to emergency management, including recommendations that the state: enhance capacity to respond and recover from climate risks; improve climate risk communication and education; assess the vulnerability of critical community facilities and facilities supporting vulnerable populations.
California incorporated an assessment of climate change in its 2013 State Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan discusses the state's climate vulnerabilities and identifies corresponding adaptation strategies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, tasked with reviewing and approving state hazard mitigation plans, recognized the plan as an "enhanced" hazard mitigation plan, which qualifies the state for additional federal funds in the event of a presidential disaster declaration.
As a result of recent severe wildfires, the state has also convened a Fire Service Task Force on Climate Impacts to enhance the state’s preparedness for increasing risks of wildfires due to climate change. The Task Force includes representatives from California Office of Emergency Services, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, the California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and federal agencies.
The 2009 and 2014 plans include many goals related to adaptation in the water sector, including recommendations that the state: reduce water use; expand surface and groundwater storage; implement efforts to improve the Delta water supply system, water quality, and ecosystems; provide sustainable funding sources for integrated regional water management; improve floodplain management practices; implement requirements for groundwater management planning; provide streamlined processes for permitting desalination and water reuse facilities; enhance low-impact development to improve stormwater management and water quality; and preserve and enhance freshwater ecosystems.
In addition to recommendations in the state’s Safeguarding plans, Governor Jerry Brown has also signed executive orders mandating water conservation. In May 2016, Governor Brown issued Executive Order B-37-16 making temporary water conservation measures permanent that were put in place to respond to the state’s drought. The executive order directs the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to work together to develop new water use targets for urban water agencies and strengthened water use standards for communities. In May 2018, the state legislature passed AB 1668 and SB 606 making Executive Order B-37-16’s water use restrictions permanent to help mitigate future droughts. The laws place future caps on indoor water use and direct regulators to establish permanent location-dependent restrictions on outdoor water use. In May, 2018 the governor also signed AB 1668 directing SWCRB to develop water use guidelines for reducing water use and enhancing water efficiency to help the state meet requirements of reducing per capita water use by 20 percent by 2020.
The 2014 Plan called on the water boards to incorporate climate change considerations in all board programs including the issuance of water quality permits and guidelines for infrastructure loans and grants. In March 2017, California's SWRCB adopted a comprehensive resolution to embed consideration of climate change into all of its programs and decisionmaking. The resolution includes new requirements to help advance goals related to climate change adaptation, ecosystem resilience, water-use conservation and efficiency, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In February 2017, SWCRB also adopted drought emergency regulations that include statewide urban water conservation requirements. SWRCB’s Recycled Water Policy (adopted in 2009 and updated in 2013) encourages water recycling as a strategy for conserving water resources by streamlining permitting for water recycling projects but also required provisions to enhance the safety of recycled water. And in 2013, SWRCB adopted a Aquifer Storage and Recovery permit to enable water storage. SWRCB also adopted Stormwater Grant Funding Guidelines to allow bond funds to be used for multi-benefit stormwater management projects; adaptation of water infrastructure systems; and investments in rainwater harvesting, water recycling, groundwater recharge and other green infrastructure projects.
Both the 2009 and 2014 plans called on state agencies to incorporate consideration of climate impacts in a range of state plans affecting the state’s water supply, water quality and ecosystems. In 2013, The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released an update to the California Water Plan, which analyzes how the state’s water supplies and water-dependent natural resources will be affected under different climate change scenarios. The Water Plan also details different strategies for adapting to these climate impacts including reducing water use, increasing water supply and storage, improving water quality, and enhancing environmental stewardship. In 2016, DWR also released an updated Drought Contingency Plan identifying strategies that state agencies should take to prepare for and respond to future droughts and other water shortage events.
Plans governing specific watersheds and ecosystems have also been updated to consider the long-term effects of climate change. In September 2013, the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan was updated to consider the long-term effects of climate change on the water supply, water quality and ecosystems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (a major source of water for the entire state and an ecologically sensitive ecosystem). The 2009 Plan also recommended that legislation be enacted to improve accountability and tracking of water amounts diverted from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In 2009, the state legislation passed Water Conservation legislation (SB X7-7), which requires tracking of water diverted from the Delta. The state is also pursuing the California WaterFix and California EcoRestore projects in the Delta, designed to improve water deliveries throughout the state while also reducing the environmental harms from diversions.
Another big challenge for California is increasing flood risks in areas protected by aging levee systems. The 2009 plan recommend that the state consider climate impacts in the Central Valley Flood Protection (CVFP) Plan, which was completed in 2012 and updated in 2017. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) explicitly incorporated climate change adaptation into Central Valley Flood Protection Plan and recommended up to $21 billion in funding for flood protection, floodplain restoration, and conservation projects.
The 2009 and 2014 plans recommended investments in projects to address climate change impacts to water management and ecosystems. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is funding research to use downscaled climate change information for water resources planning. The state is funding improvements in water efficiency and water infrastructure through the state’s Revolving Loan Programs, a Water Recycling Grant Program, Water-Energy Grant Program, among others. The state is also making investments in conservation and restoration activities benefitting water systems, habitats, and water quality. In 2015, the CDFW awarded $21 million in funding for wetland restoration projects that also contributed to the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals through the state’s Wetland Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program. California received $70.3 million as one of the winning applicants of the National Disaster Resilience Competition; with that funding the state is supporting watershed resilience and forest health programs in Tuolumne County, which was affected by the 2013 Rim Fire. In November 2014, state voters approved Proposition 1 -- the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, allocating $2.7 billion to fund projects to improve water storage, water quality, ecosystems, flood control, and emergency response. In February 2017, Governor Brown also announced approximately $450 million in investments to enhance flood control and emergency response for dam operators as a result of the failure of a spillway at the Oroville Dam.
The California legislature has also passed several bills relating to financing water projects. In October 2017, SB 667 authorized a new watershed-based riverine and riparian stewardship improvement program to support projects that reduce flood risk, improve climate resilience, and benefit ecological function. The legislature also passed SB5, the "California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018," authorizing $4 billion in bonds to finance a new program to increase the public’s access to parks and provide environmental benefits including climate and drought resilience.
DWR has also been taking action to implement the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Enacted in 2014, the SGMA requires planning, better management of groundwater resources, and monitoring of groundwater withdrawals. The SGMA requires local groundwater management agencies to develop plans defining a process for achieving sustainable groundwater management by 2050. In May 2018, DWR adopted emergency regulations setting requirements for groundwater management planning, monitoring and reporting (23 CA ADC §§ 350 et seq.). The regulations direct local agencies to use climate change and sea-level rise projections when determining water budgets for groundwater basins.