Climate Change Adaptations for Local Water Management in the San Francisco Bay Area

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Sicke, William S., Lund, Jay R., and Medellin-Azuara, Josué
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Climate change will affect both sea level and the temporal and spatial distribution of runoff in
California. These climate change impacts will affect the reliability of water supplies and
operations of California’s water supply system. To meet future urban water demands in the San
Francisco Bay Area, local water managers can adapt by changing water supply portfolios and
operations. An engineering economic model, CALVIN, which optimizes water supply
operations and allocations for the State of California, was used to explore the effects on water
supply of a severely warm dry climate and substantial sea level rise, and to identify
economically promising long-term adaptations for San Francisco Bay Area water systems. This
reconnaissance level modeling suggests that even under fairly severe forms of climate change,
Bay Area urban water demands can be largely met, but at a cost. Costs are from purchasing
water from agricultural users (with agricultural opportunity costs), more expensive water
supply alternatives such as water recycling and desalination, and some increases in water
scarcity (costs of water use reduction). The modeling also demonstrates the importance of water
transfer and intertie infrastructure to facilitate flexible water management among Bay Area
water agencies. The intertie capacity developed by Bay Area agencies for emergencies, such as
earthquakes, becomes even more valuable for responding to severe changes in climate.


Sicke, W. S., J. R. Lund, and J. Medellin-Azuara. 2012. Climate Change Adaptations for Local Water Management in the San Francisco Bay Area. California Energy Commission. Retrieved from