Addressing Climate Change

Diamond valley lake dusk

Addressing Climate Change

Climate change is proving to be one of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced to the reliability of Southern California’s water supplies. Every watershed the region has depended on, from the Colorado River to the Sierra Nevada to those that feed our own groundwater basins, is becoming less reliable. Metropolitan has long recognized this threat, and we’ve been preparing for this new reality for more than two decades through our Integrated Water Resources Plan. We’ve invested in local supplies, developed new storage, and increased our system’s flexibility to take advantage of water when it’s available from our diverse sources. We’ve also taken big steps to minimize the effects of climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — a commitment we’re furthering through our Climate Action Plan.

Through a highly collaborative process, Metropolitan has adopted a Climate Action Plan detailing how we will strengthen our commitment to environmental sustainability, increase the resiliency of operations and provide a pathway to achieve our ultimate goal of carbon neutrality. This ambitious plan, approved by Metropolitan’s board in May 2022, provides nine strategies that include utility improvements at Metropolitan facilities, a zero emissions fleet, and increased support of conservation and local water resources programs. The strategies included in the CAP provide the benefits of improved infrastructure reliability, greater energy resiliency, and reduced costs linked to energy purchase and maintenance. Read the final Climate Action Plan.

As we face unprecedented and challenging times of historic dry conditions and shortage declarations for our imported water supplies, Metropolitan is committed to ensure that all portions of our service area have a high level of reliability.

Our board has pledged to identify and implement measures to ensure that these demands are met with considerations to system improvements, local water supply development, new storage and programs to increase conservation. Read our regional outlook on addressing these concerns.

Drought is the new normal in California. Learn what you can do to save water in this video produced by the State Water Contractor’s, the California Department of Water Resources and Save Our Water. Watch the video.


A Challenge at Every Source

Climate change is expected to increase average temperatures across the western United States. In the Colorado River Basin, that means decreased runoff and lower flows as less snow is coupled with more demand from trees and plants. In the Sierra Nevada, precipitation will increasingly fall as rain in a few large storms, rather than snow. Sierra snowpack — long a critical storage tool in California’s water management as it holds water high in the mountains until peak summer demand — is expected to decrease by up to 65 percent by the end of the century. And locally, climate change threatens groundwater basins with saltwater intrusion and less natural replenishment.

Man on snow survey 2020

Climate Action Plan: Reaching Carbon Neutrality

Metropolitan isn’t just adapting to climate change as it comes, we’re also taking important steps to keep it from getting worse. We’ve joined state and local leaders to help minimize the effects of climate change by committing to reduce GHG emissions.

Metropolitan's Climate Action Plan will establish a feasible pathway to the state's target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and Metropolitan's goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.

What is the Climate Action Plan?

The Climate Action Plan includes an inventory of Metropolitan’s historic and current GHG emissions, as well as a comprehensive forecast of future projected emissions. The data is then used to identify a feasible GHG reduction target and GHG reduction measures that Metropolitan can implement to achieve its goal. Once adopted, the Climate Action Plan will serve as a long-term planning document that will be used to guide policy and planning decisions on operations, water resources, capital investments, and conservation and resource programs. Member and local agencies will be able to use it to consider local policies and programs. It will also allow Metropolitan to streamline the environmental review process and mitigate GHG impacts for future capital projects under the California Environmental Quality Act. Upon adoption by the board, expected in the spring of 2022, the Climate Action Plan will be available here.

Other key benefits:  

  • Integrates legislation and guidance from state, federal, and international sources
  • Saves Metropolitan money through energy efficiency
  • Provides dual benefit of improved operational resilience and air quality improvements 
Our Climate Action Plan

On the Path to Sustainability

Our Climate Action Plan will help get us to our goal of carbon neutrality, but we’ve been on the path for decades. Our environmental awareness began with our founding in 1928, when our planners and engineers designed the Colorado River Aqueduct to deliver water primarily by gravity across 242 miles of California desert to the state’s south coastal plain. Those same planners recognized the need for a reliable supply of power, investing in construction of Hoover Dam and Parker Dam, which together supply more than half of the energy needed today to power the CRA pumps with clean, carbon-free energy.

That same forward-thinking ingenuity imbues Metropolitan’s continued investments in clean energy and energy-efficient design to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

Skinner water treatment plant solar panels
EV charging station
Cactus in the desert
Transmission towers energy

How To Get Involved

Visit this site for opportunities to join the conversation. Metropolitan plans to connect with the community during the Climate Action Plan process to share information and insights with interested individuals and organizations.


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