Twitchell Island

DWR employees at Twitchell Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. DWR/2016

Sustainability is a broad concept that, depending on specific circumstances, means different things to different people. However, all concepts of sustainability share the fundamental theme of assuring enough resources for both current and future generations. Sustainability is about using our resources wisely and adapting to change.

Water resource issues in California are complex and dynamic, and the planning we do as a department must ensure that Californians will enjoy clean water and thriving ecosystems far into the future. Some of the water supply sustainability challenges we face include:

  • Climate change, which impacts water supply and delivery
  • Increasing population and demands on finite water resources
  • Ecosystem fragmentation and decline, which has put many species on threatened or endangered lists, requiring regulations to protect them 
  • Increasing sources of contaminants that impact water quality
  • Invasive species that disrupt operation of water delivery systems

Ensuring sustainability requires that we address complex issues within our state borders, and beyond. On a regional and local scale, we work to protect watersheds, conserve and protect groundwater basins, and implement energy efficiency in buildings. On a larger scale, we work with our partners to address global warming and climate change, the impacts of non-biodegradable materials, deforestation, endangered species, and desertification.

Sustainability is our Mission

DWR's mission to protect, restore and enhance the natural and human environment embraces sustainability. Sustainability is a fundamental principle in our planning documents, such as the California Water Plan, the Climate Action Plan, and the Water Action plan. Sustainability is in DWR’s restoration projects, fish passage improvements, flood plain enhancements, and environmental research projects and studies.

Sustainability in our Operations

DWR has adopted sustainability as one of its core values. To help in its sustainability effort, DWR has a Sustainability Coordinator, a Sustainable Business Operations Unit, a Climate Action Unit, a Water and Energy Efficiency Branch, 33 Recycling and Waste Coordinators, LEED-certified staff, environmental scientists, biologists, engineers, rangeland scientists, hydrologists and other specialists who are integrating sustainability into their daily work.

Some of DWR's Sustainable Operations achievements include: