Metropolitan Water Joins California Resilience Challenge to Help Prepare for Climate Change

By on June 24, 2019
Metropolitan Water District

Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California’s Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to become a leader and board member of the California Resilience Challenge (CRC), the statewide effort to build local resilience to the droughts, floods, wildfires and sea-level rise that climate change is expected to bring to California. MWD is contributing $200,000 to the initiative, which will use the funding to provide grants to community-level climate change adaptation projects.

In joining CRC, MWD joins a growing partnership of public, private and non-profit organizations supporting the initiative, including Climate Resolve, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Pacific Gas and Electric, the Pillsbury law firm and Santa Clara Valley Water District. CRC is administered by the Bay Area Council.

“Climate change doesn’t just threaten Northern California or Southern California, coastal California or the state’s inland communities. It threatens cities, farms and ecosystems up and down the state. The threats may vary from community to community, but everyone is at risk,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We have to work together and learn from one another to prepare for and recover from these threats.”

“One of the most profound impacts of climate change will be to our water supply,” Wunderman continued. “Few agencies understand that as well as Metropolitan. So we are thrilled to have the district bring its expertise and leadership to the California Resilience Challenge.”

The California Resilience Challenge has an initial goal of raising $3 million, and ultimately $10 million, to support the effort to cut carbon emissions and reduce the extent of future climate change. But new approaches and investments are needed to plan and adapt to the impacts of climate change that are becoming increasingly unavoidable.

“We’re already living in a changed climate. Our policy decisions, investments and priorities need to reflect that,” MWD Board Chairwoman Gloria Gray said.

In the past decade the state has seen the driest four-year period in state history, followed a year later by the wettest water year in history. In addition to California’s weather extremes, the California Department of Water Resources predicts that Sierra snowpack – a valuable source of water storage for the state – will decline by up to 65 percent by the end of the century.

To help combat these weather extremes, the California Resilience Challenge plans to award grants for up to ten climate change adaptation projects. The winning projects will reflect the state’s diverse geography and challenges, be innovative, locally supported and replicable across the state and globe. MWD will help determine which projects should receive funding, thereby ensuring the needs of the water community and Southern California are represented.

“The good news is, Metropolitan has been planning for this new reality for more than a decade, taking steps to ensure the region’s water supply remains reliable under these extreme and changing conditions,” Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said. “We are eager to identify adaptation strategies that can benefit the entire water sector.”