Climate Change Program Activities

The DWR Climate Change Program has been recognized for taking the lead, to addresses climate change impacts through mitigation and adaptation measures, to ensure that Californians have an adequate water supply, reliable flood control, and healthy ecosystems now and in the future. 

Some highlights of our activities include:

  • In 2024, we were chosen as a recipient of the American Water Resources Association Sandor C. Csallany Institutional Award for exemplary contributions to water resources management. The award highlighted the Department's Climate Action Plan.
  • In 2023, a seminar was held to showcase a new "Weather Generator" tool to help hydrologists, scientists, and technical practitioners in water resources management to better understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change on water resources.
  • In 2022, A Climate Action Plan for the California Department of Water Resources, published in the Journal of American Water Works Association (JAWWA), recounts the significant drivers, lessons learned, and the road ahead for the Department's three-phased Climate Action Plan.
  • In 2022, we were inducted into the first-ever Climate Leadership Awards Hall of Fame at the national Climate Leadership Conference for its ongoing work to address California’s changing climate and evolving water management challenges. News release.
  • In 2021, we received our fifth Climate Leadership Award in Innovative Partnership for its collaboration with the Water Education Foundation in developing workshops for educators about the effects of climate change. News release.
  • In 2020, we authored a paper in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. The data will support the Annual Hydroclimate Reports, provide water managers with a new methodology for exploring the transition from snow to rain under a warming climate, and stress the importance of recognizing the vulnerability of watersheds in California. 
  • In 2020, we released Moving to Action in response to the Governor's Water Resilience Portfolio, setting out steps for building a climate-resilient, watershed-based future, including establishing a network of partners, and providing data, tools and guidance for adaptation. This is a follow-up to Planning for Change held in September 2019, where we released a Call to Action and discussed climate change uncertainties with decision makers and technical experts.
  • In 2020, we received the Climate Leadership Award for Organizational Leadership for outreach on climate resilience and for taking a comprehensive approach that aligns state and local water management. News release.
  • In 2019, we contributed to nine technical reports and supporting scientific articles for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. The research summarized in our brochure, ranged from model-based assessments and projects to social science studies documenting local resource management perspectives and efforts. News release.
  • In 2018, we received the Climate Leadership Award for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. News Release.
  • In 2017, we received the San Francisco Estuary Partnership Outstanding Environmental Project Award for making contributions to the health and resilience of the San Francisco Bay‐Delta Estuary. DWR Updates.
  • In 2016, we received the Climate Leadership Award for organizational Leadership in managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and integrating climate resilience into operating strategies.
  • In 2015, we received the Climate Leadership Award for Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management: Goal Setting for its work on the DWR Climate Action Plan. This award is the highest national award given for greenhouse gas management. We are the first public agency to be honored with the award.
  • In 2014, we released up-to-date climate change information, including hydrologic impacts and projections at the statewide and regional levels, adaptation strategies, and energy intensity of water supplies in California Water Plan Update 2013. (Also see California Climate Science and Data for Water Resources Management).
  • In 2013, we divested from the Reid-Gardner coal-fired power plant by replacing electricity purchases with those from high-efficiency gas-fired power plants and renewables. We reduced GHG emissions by over 800,000 metric tons per year (equivalent to removing 170,000 cars from the road).
  • In 2012, we adopted phase 1 of the Climate Action Plan, a Department-wide plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In 2011, we collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Resources Legacy Fund to complete the Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning.
  • In 2010, we adopted an Environmental Stewardship Policy supporting a Department-wide total resource management approach to planning activities and projects. Clear and measurable goals for sustainability implementation were also adopted in 2010 following the 2009 adoption of the Department's Sustainability Policy.
  • Between 2007 and 2009, we were a member of the California Climate Action Registry and made the list as a Climate Action Leader by reporting its GHG emissions and having the data verified through a third party audit. In 2010, we transitioned to a North American-wide climate registry known as The Climate Registry, and continue to provide third party verified GHG emissions inventory data.
  • In 2008, we adopted a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy which recommends a series of adaptation strategies for state and local water managers to improve their capacity to handle climate change as well as help adapt our water resources to non-climate demands, including a growing population, ecosystem restoration and greater flood protection.


American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific, and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water. Together, DWR and AWWA are working to inform water utilities of how to incorporate climate uncertainty in their planning process. 

California Climate Change Technical Advisory Group convened by DWR to inform the department's planning and analytical processes with the latest scientific data. 

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) aims to protect California’s robust agricultural economy. DWR and CDFA collaborate on water and energy grant programs, promoting healthy soils to uptake carbon and increase farm production, and educating the public on the impacts climate change is having on agriculture.

California Landscape Conservation Cooperative is a science-management partnership created to inform and promote integrated science, natural resource management, and conservation to address the impacts of climate change and other stressors within and across ecosystems. DWR has been active by participating on the Steering Committee and various teams. 

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is a non-profit, community-based network of volunteers that take daily local measurements of rain, hail, and snow. DWR supports CoCoRaHS through regional coordination, data management, and volunteer recruitment, as well as promoting CoCoRaHS for classroom science and water workshops for teachers.

Desert Research Institute is a non-profit research campus home to the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC). WRCC serves as a focal point for coordinated applied climate activities in the West. DWR supports WRCC’s California Climate Data Archive and the California Climate Tracker to improve web-based data services for California climate information.

Rijkswaterstaat,  part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, is responsible for the design, construction, management, and maintenance of the main infrastructure facilities in the Netherlands, including the waterway network. DWR and Rijkswaterstaat periodically share information to compare water management approaches.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (Scripps) provides water cycle science, technology, and outreach to support effective policies and practices that address the impacts of extreme weather and water events. DWR supports Scripps to develop decision support services for forecasting and planning in water management, as they relate to atmospheric rivers, and precipitation and runoff.

Tulare Basin Watershed Connections Collaborative (TBWCC) is a collaborative of natural resource managers working together to advance whole-watershed planning and resource management in the Tulare Basin based on sound science and mutually identified needs for regional economic and ecological sustainability. DWR supports the TBWCC) by hosting and facilitating meetings and organizing workshops and other watershed-based training opportunities.

University of Arizona (UofA) Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences builds integrated and quantitative hydrologic and atmospheric sciences and aims to develop the knowledge needed to solve the water, hydrogeological, weather, and climate related problems in the world.  UofA and DWR have developed long-term streamflow or precipitation reconstructions for the Klamath, San Joaquin and Sacramento River basins. Ongoing studies include larger Southern California watersheds, the Kern River, and Colorado River inflow to Lake Powell.

University of Massachusetts Hydrosystems Research Group (HSRG) has been pioneering a new approach to climate change analysis and decision support called decision scaling.  DWR is working with HSRG on applying decision scaling to the State Water Project. Currently, DWR is working with HSRG for DWR’s Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and DWR’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan. 

Water Education Foundation (WEF) is a nonprofit organization to create a better understanding of water resources and foster public understanding and resolution of water resource issues through facilitation, education, and outreach. DWR has partnered with WEF to increase public knowledge of water issues by producing educational materials.

Water Education for Teachers (Project WET) is a nonprofit water education program to promote awareness of the impacts of climate change to the water sector. DWR and Project WET provide training workshops for educators at all levels on diverse water topics to be shared in the classroom.