What is the future of water in your California community?

To ensure a healthy and equitable water future for all, California needs inclusive water planning tools.

What is Coeqwal?

An invitation to communities with diverse water needs to envision the future of California’s water.

Collaborative research that advances science to explore new possibilities for water management.

Accessible, online tools to help us understand how we’ll support critical water needs in a changing climate.

An independent, publicly funded research project.

NEWS

We published our first Project Brief, The Future of California Water.

Maven’s Notebook reports on COEQWAL.

COEQWAL offers the UC Water Academy course.

Why do we need coeqwal?

Insufficient Water, Diverse Demands

California has one of the largest systems in the world for moving water where and when we need it. However, between agriculture, cities, and the environment, there is not enough water to meet current demands during all years. Who decides how to divide and distribute our limited supply? COEQWAL will explore new ways of managing water to balance competing needs.

Climate change brings more extreme weather to California. We either get less water than we need or more water than we can manage. Rising sea levels push salt water further into the California Delta, putting our water supply at risk. Ecosystems, already in decline, face increasing stress. How can we adapt? COEQWAL will evaluate how our water system will respond to climate change and identify pathways to a sustainable, equitable, and resilient water future.

Climate Change Creates Further Challenges

Everyone Needs a Voice

Computer models allow us to explore different possible futures. They help us make informed decisions about who gets water, where and when. But who decides what scenarios to consider? COEQWAL will elevate the voices of those historically excluded from decision making. Using a collaborative modeling approach, COEQWAL will develop scenarios reflecting the values and priorities of diverse community members, and work to ensure that model results are meaningful to the broadest possible audience.

“So much water is moved around California by so many different agencies that maybe only the movers themselves know on any given day whose water is where.”

Joan Didion, The White Album (1979)

How will COEQWAL change water planning?

Canada geese fly above the Sacramento River.

Participation and Collaboration

Through the collaborative development of data, models and tools with diverse partners, the goal of COEQWAL is to broaden participation in water planning. COEQWAL cannot change water planning on its own, nor can it happen overnight. We are building long-term, committed partnerships.

By gathering underrepresented voices, we are developing models to explore new solutions that meet diverse needs. We are committed to sharing data and making tools accessible. In these efforts, we aim to empower all Californians to influence decisions over how water is managed.

Exploring New Solutions

In the first phase of our project, COEQWAL will focus on access to safe drinking water for communities dependent on surface water. We will use best available climate predictions to explore Chinook salmon recovery and management of salinity in the Delta.

Sharing Data and Tools

We will develop an easy-to-use data visualization platform to make information interpretable and accessible. Users will be able to see where and when water is delivered for each scenario, and the associated consequences for people, the economy, and the environment. Users will also be able to explore how outcomes vary under alternative scenarios.

Our Timeline

COEQWAL launched in the winter of 2023-24. Community engagement activities, including public workshops, will be held in spring through fall of 2024. Initial results from water management scenario analyses will be available in winter 2024. Data visualization tools will be released by the end of 2025.

Who Is Coeqwal?

COEQWAL is led by researchers from six University of California campuses and California State University Sacramento, working in partnership with state and federal government agencies, Native American tribes, community groups, water districts, and NGOs. The team includes includes engineers, economists, ecologists, landscape architects, planners, social scientists, climate scientists, and data scientists.

This project is funded by a grant through the

University of California

Climate Action Initiative