From the Pacific Ocean to our iconic rivers, to the Sierra Nevada snowpacks, California depends on water. Current water management practices in the state are no longer sufficient or conducive to providing Californians a reliable and resilient water supply – threatening local communities, crashing critical ecosystems, and undermining our economic security. Learn more about water issues including groundwater, Delta decline, and the effect of climate change. See how California’s drought can be an opportunity for positive change.

Water Solutions

A new, more holistic approach to water is needed and PCL is proud to be at the leading edge in championing such an approach. Our Water Campaign focuses on developing and implementing sustainable and equitable water policies that enable California to meet water needs for our growing population, our economy, and our environment. Learn more about our water policy accomplishments.

Water Law Reform

In 2020, PCL convened a group of water law and policy experts to develop recommendations for Updating California Water Laws to Address Drought and Climate Change. The report contains 11 recommendations to modernize California’s water rights law. Read the full report Updating California Water Laws to Address Drought and Climate Change. So far we have passed two critical reforms on environmental justice representation and climate change analysis and two more are pending in the legislature in 2024.

We have developed a set of recommendations on how our water laws can be updated to address the impacts of drought and climate change. As you will see from the recommendations, this is not a “blow up the water rights boxes” approach. Rather it is a focused approach to updating existing laws, regulations, and funding.

It is also important to note that we recognize these recommendations can and should be carefully scrutinized and refined in the various public processes. Some are more detailed all the way to the proposed legislative language. Others are more generally described. Although we gave them the best consideration we could in the time available, there will undoubtedly be additional drafting and implementation issues that will need to be considered. Also, we recognize that this is not a complete list of all needed upgrades. We hope that others will add their contributions to the process.

The 4 Categories of our Water Campaign

Through the wise use of water, we can ensure that there will be sufficient water resources for our economy, people and environment. Below are the four areas of focus in our water campaign:

1) Engaging in statewide water planning policies engagement. See our  Water Investment Strategy.

2) Advocating in the legislative arena. Learn about current water law proposals PCL is sponsoring.

3) Supporting innovative local projects.  See how you can help California’s water situation.

4) Undertaking research and community outreach. Read about our 8 Affordable Water Solutions.

The 4R Approach to Water

We advocate for regional water self-sufficiency and a 4R approach over large-scale water transfers and storage projects:

  • Reduce – water conservation and efficiency
  • Reuse – rainwater harvesting and graywater use
  • Recycle – wastewater reclamation
  • Restore – ecosystem restoration

Water Policy and Climate Change

PCL’s Water Policy team works to fundamentally change California’s water policy. California’s growing population, our $1.9 trillion economy and our natural resources all require clean, reliable and affordable water. Limited funding and a changing climate demand that we make strategic investments and implement effective policies to meet our water needs.