Director Cowin On Sustainability Director Cowin On Sustainability

Click here for an important video message on Sustainabilty from Director Cowin. The Director stresses the importance of both Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship for DWR.

DWR's Leadership Role DWR's Leadership Role

DWR's Policy states that DWR will be a leader in sustainability among state agencies and among the California water community. What does that mean?


First, it means that DWR takes responsibility for assuring that in its planning efforts and in its projects, the most efficient methods are used.

However, that does not mean that the final measure of efficiency is only financial costs.

New Tools/New Learning

Rather it means that other tools, such as systems thinking, pattern analysis and other thinking tools are brought into the process and a greater range of impacts are considered. This type of thinking means looking holistically at the world and recognizing its complexity, feedback loops and self -organizing ability.

New Behaviors

In addition, Sustainability requires a transition to new behaviors including new capacities and skills to mediate complex trade-offs between competing values. Sustainability challenges require new approaches to traditional leadership skills to catalyze this new way of problem solving, and to effectively deal with change.

Sustainability Leadership requires the ability to navigate new uncertainties as well as have the capacity to act for more sustainable results. 

Future Challenges Future Challenges

Leadership Challenges:

 Fossil Fuels

You know, the world's not running out of oil. There's all kinds of oil left in all kinds of places. …We're never going to run out of oil. But what the world is going to run out of, indeed, what the world has already run out of, is the oil you can afford to burn."
—Jeff Rubin, Energy expert & former chief economist, CIBC World Markets

Greenhouse Gases Emissions

Biggest jump ever seen in global warming gases 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world's efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

The world pumped about 564 million more tons (512 million metric tons) of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009. That's an increase of 6 percent. That amount of extra pollution eclipses the individual emissions of all but three countries — China, the United States and India, the world's top producers of greenhouse gases.  See complete story at :

Water Resources

Researchers to study water resource systems

ST. GEORGE - A team of researchers is looking into the impact Western states have on one another when it comes to water resources.

Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council, said water managers from Western states are starting to look at water supplies in a more regional way, taking notice of the effect one state has on another.

"I think other states are just now starting to think more regionally about the Colorado River basin especially," he said. "I think they're starting to notice, especially as major water projects are proposed, the regional impacts of water use."

See complete story at:

Current Activities Current Activities

DWR's Leadership Response!

Fossil Fuels

DWR's response to the global warming crisis has been on several fronts. Although more remains to be done to reduce the use of fossil fuels at DWR; significant steps have already been taken to reduce DWR's fossil fuel footprint. Some of these actions include:

Climate Change Leadership: In the course of the past five years, the Department of Water Resources has achieved a leadership role in both the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and in positioning California to adapt to changes happening now and in the future.


Green House Gases (GHGs) Reporting and Mitigation :

GHGs Reporting:

  1. Since 2007, DWR has measured, verified, and publicly reported its annual "carbon footprint" to the California Climate Action Registry (CCAR). In 2010, DWR began using The Climate Registry, a national level reporting entity, to report its annual GHG emissions.


Reducing the use of Fossil Fuel:

  1. DWR is aggressively targeting GHG emissions from power purchases to run the State Water Project, and is replacing coal-fired electricity with cleaner natural gas and renewable electricity sources.
  2.  DWR has developed a progressive Renewable Energy Procurement Plan to increase the use of renewable electricity, generally.
  3.  In 2009, the Department entered into a voluntary agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions. SF6, used in electric power systems, is identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as an extremely potent greenhouse gas.
  4. DWR-SMUD Partnership:, DWR and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) are in a partnership in which SMUD provides 33% renewable energy and 33% carbon offsets for DWR's retail electrical and natural gas use, respectively, based on its 2008 retail consumption data. SMUD matches 33% of DWR's estimated retail electricity needs with Greenergy purchases from renewable resources such as landfill gas, wind, solar, and small hydroelectric plants. In addition, SMUD matches an additional 40 % to the amount DWR pays to build new, cleaner energy resources, reducing the need to build future polluting power plants. DWR is the first State agency to participate in SMUD's Carbon Offsets program.

Leadership Principles Leadership Principles

What are some defining characteristics of Sustainability Leadership? First and foremost is the need for a holistic approach. True Sustainbility leadership embraces the big picture. It requires a willingness to look for all of the connections and a willingness to have frank and sometimes difficult conversations. But those conversations can produce innovative results that lead to better outcomes. Sustainability leaders will continually learn and adapt to new situations and will share the results of their learning with others.

Federal Government and Sustainability Federal Government and Sustainability

Executive Order 13514 requires Federal agencies to measure, report, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from agency operations to reduce waste, increase efficiency, and cut costs. In 2010, President Obama announced that the Federal Government will reduce its direct greenhouse gas emissions, such as those from fuels and building energy use, by 28 percent by 2020 and will reduce its indirect greenhouse gas emissions, such as those from employee business travel and employee commuting, by 13 percent by 2020. By meeting these two goals, the Federal Government could save up to $11 billion in energy costs over the next decade and eliminate the equivalent of 235 million barrels of oil from its own activities.

The Federal Government's progress towards meeting the GHG targets will be accomplished by holding agencies accountable for achieving related statutory and executive order goals and the individual targets they identified in their annual Sustainability Plans, through the OMB scorecard process, and monitoring of agency comprehensive GHG inventories on an annual basis beginning in January 2011 In April 2011, the White House Council on Environmental Quality released the first-ever comprehensive Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory for the Federal Government, which accounts for the GHG emissions associated with the Federal Government's operations in 2010.

The Federal Government's GHG inventory for 2010 was 66.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (MMTCO2e). The 2010 GHG inventory shows that the Federal Government successfully reduced GHG pollution by 2.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions (MMTCO2e) since its 2008 baseline, and is on track to meeting the 2020 Federal GHG pollution reduction target.