Principles for State Investment in Climate Adaptation

This is the first of a series of blog posts on California Water Research’s recommendations for the Water Resilience Portfolio.

Principles for State Investment in Climate Adaptation

The first priority of the state must be increasing resiliency of the existing built environment, and protecting vulnerable populations from catastrophic effects of climate change. Catastrophic climate change effects include severe droughts, river flooding, heat waves, fires, and inundation from sea level rise.

The state must also invest in increasing resiliency of ecosystems in the face of climate change.

We must recognize that demand for funding for climate adaptation measures will exceed availability.

We must ensure that the best available, independent science is used to evaluate proposed state investments in climate change adaptation, to ensure that those investments truly increase climate resiliency.

We must develop clear, objective goals and priorities for state investment in climate adaptation, as well as criteria for evaluation of proposed projects. Clear and measurable targets must be set for Water Portfolio investments.

Water Supply

State water supply investments should prioritize public benefits such as increasing ecosystem resilience, and avoid subsidizing the cost of water, which indirectly subsidizes unsustainable patterns of use. State subsidies for water supply for disadvantaged communities should be targeted at those communities.

Targeted funding should also be provided to reduce reliance on aquatic ecosystems and aquifers by investing in urban and agricultural conservation and efficiency and alternative water supplies.

The state should evaluate current patterns of land use, including agricultural use, and ensure that state policies encourage uses that are sustainable and adaptive to climate change.


For aquatic ecosystems to survive in the face of climate change and demand for new diversions, the state must ensure that there are adequately protective instream flow criteria.  Quantifiable goals and deadlines should be set.

The state must prioritize climate adaptation measures that increase sustainability in the use of surface water and reduce impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

For inundation due to sea level rise and river flooding, the state should prioritize pro-adaptive approaches which utilize natural infrastructure, where feasible.


The Water Portfolio should address mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions as well as climate adaptation.

These recommendations are endorsed and supported by the One Water Network of California environmental and environmental justice organizations.

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