Water Governance and Climate Change: Drought in California as a Lens on Our Climate Future

December 09, 2014 | Water in the West | Insights

A new report on water governance and climate change through the lens of the current California drought has just been released by Stanford University’s Water in the West Program.

This report, authored by Water in the West visiting scholar Jacqueline Peel and research analyst Janny Choy, summarizes the insights, lessons and key findings of a workshop hosted by Water in the West in September 2014, which brought together participants who have played central roles in managing water during California’s current drought.  The conference focused on planning, management, response, and other aspects of water governance in the face of climate change.  Participants included officials from local, state and federal agencies and researchers from Stanford and other universities and institutions.  Topics addressed at the conference (and in the report) include the ramifications of increasingly severe droughts on water users and the environment, how water managers have made water allocation and other decisions during the current drought, and how to improve water management and governance in the context of a changing climate. 

The Stanford workshop was held in conjunction with a parallel workshop at Melbourne Law School in Australia. Participants in the two workshops took part in a joint videoconference session to exchange insights about the two regions’ experiences with drought.  The report includes some of these lessons from Australia’s experiences during the millennium drought and its aftermath, including water law reform, increased reliance on water markets, allocating water for the environment, and desalination. 

The report identifies many key issues for California in dealing with the current drought and preparing for the next one, and maps out key questions for further research and work.

Read report: “Water Governance and Climate Change: Drought in California as a Lens on Our Climate Future