Planning for the Future: New State Water Project Strategic Plan Focuses on Ensuring a Reliable, Sustainable, and Resilient Water Supply Amid a Changing Climate


A night view of the Lake Oroville main spillway. Photo taken April 7, 2019.

As California experiences more weather extremes due to climate change, planning for the future will be critical for the resilience of the state’s water supply. To help guide those efforts, DWR has released a new State Water Project (SWP) Risk-Informed Strategic Plan to ensure a reliable, sustainable, and resilient water supply through 2028 and beyond.

The plan, known as Elevate to ‘28, furthers the implementation of DWR’s department-wide strategic plan. Elevate to ‘28 contains organization-wide perspectives including the mission, vision, and purpose of the SWP while integrating risk management to be better equipped to serve the water needs of California.

“As stewards for sustainably managing the water resources of California, the SWP team is committed to elevating our strategic approach and honing our focus, ensuring reliable services for the people and environment of California through the Elevate to ’28 plan,” said State Water Project Acting Deputy Director John Yarbrough. “It is the spirit that will guide us through the challenges and triumphs that lie ahead.”

With Elevate to ‘28, the SWP will maintain its pivotal role in supporting the management of California’s water resources today and in the future as we adapt to a changing climate. The SWP, spanning more than 700 miles, consists of a system of canals, dams, reservoirs, pumping plants, and power plants, and provides water to 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland, protects against floods through the operation of its many reservoirs, generates clean carbon-free hydroelectricity, provides numerous environmental benefits, offers an immense array of recreational benefits, and drives California’s economy.

The ‘Elevate to ‘28 plan embraces change and innovation to address our changing landscape by outlining specific actions to secure a better future for California. It focuses on five key goals:

  • Advancing an industry-leading safety culture
  • Being the employer of choice to attract and support a highly qualified and diverse workforce
  • Accelerating adaptation and resiliency for a changing climate
  • Promoting awareness of the SWP’s significance
  • Optimizing infrastructure, financial integrity, and operations

Elevate to ‘28 will be the guiding force for the SWP’s future success by prioritizing critical operations and proactively addressing risks -- such as extreme hydrologic conditions, increasing water supply demand, and aging infrastructure.

By providing this big-picture, risk-informed strategy, the SWP will operate as one team, embracing and managing change, leading with open communication and collaboration to provide safe, reliable, and affordable water for the well-being and prosperity of California. 

View the PDF version Elevate to '28 Plan.