The Water Policy Center for the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has outlined priorities for the state to consider in responding to climate change. The report sets the stage for a PPIC conference in two weeks on drought and climate change.

“The events of this past year make it clear that we must act with urgency to meet the challenge of increasingly severe, warmer droughts,” writes economist Ellen Hanak, the center's director, in the report's introduction. “Now is the time to seize the drought and muster all the forces we can to tackle climate change head-on. Our social, economic and natural well-being depend on it.”

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The top priority is to head off the surge of groundwater pumping that has resulted from the drought. The report suggests speeding up groundwater recharge efforts and better managing surface and underground storage.

Safe and affordable drinking water also ranks high on the list. When it comes to the health of freshwater ecosystems, the researchers call for a broader watershed-scale approach, rather than managing by individual species. The report also recognizes the value of better forest management for improving the water supply. Aging water infrastructure is another challenge highlighted by the drought.