California Water (CalWater)
ICF and Pathways collaborated recently on a project for CalWater, the largest investor-owned U.S. water utility west of the Mississippi River, providing water to more than 472,000 customers across 24 service districts throughout the state. ICF and Pathways recently completed Phase 2 of a three-phase project. Pathways led the climate exposure and vulnerability assessment, leveraging the latest climate science data to assess how climate change could impact water resources and supply as well as the infrastructure that treats and delivers water to residential, industrial, commercial, and agricultural customers.
Pathways considered impacts from temperature, extreme heat, extreme precipitation, Sierra Nevada snowmelt, streamflow, stormwater runoff and flooding, sea level rise and coastal flooding, coastal erosion, and drought, including the development of a new drought indicator to better capture the existing prolonged and exceptional drought conditions impacting much of the state and how these conditions will vary under a warmer climate. ICF developed consequence statements and risk indicators, and Pathways and ICF collaborated on the development of vulnerability and risk profiles to communicate the primary climate drivers affecting each of CalWater’s service districts across the state.
The team presented risks and adaptation options in context of statewide water resilience planning and policy efforts. The outcome of this work gives CalWater a complete picture of key climate vulnerabilities for both the mid- and end-of-century time periods, incorporating variations in climate scenarios and shifts in supply and demand. This study also allows CalWater to better comply with emerging regulations for climate vulnerability studies from the California Public Utilities Commission.
The climate exposure and risk assessments will support the development of facility-based adaptation strategies during Phase 3 to help CalWater better manage long-term water resources under an uncertain future. The climate science data will be used to inform future water supply and demand forecasting, water reliability plans, and water supply and facility master plans that incorporate adaptation strategies and increase infrastructure resilience.