Flooding on Seacoast Drive during king tide
Flooding at the south end of Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach during a recent king tide. Photo by Chris Helmer / City of Imperial Beach

The San Diego Foundation has awarded $364,000 to six nonprofit programs that promise to strengthen regional resilience in the face of diminishing water supplies due to climate change.

“As climate change increasingly impacts our daily lives and threatens the region’s access to water and its infrastructure, these grant projects will help ensure that the communities most impacted by global warming have the knowledge and tools to protect their quality of life,” said Lydia Van Note, director of environmental initiatives at the foundation.

Since 2015, the foundation has partnered with the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation to engage local stakeholders involved in water, climate, agriculture, equity, land use and housing. Through these efforts, the foundation has leveraged more than $1 million in grant support to spur innovative public-private partnerships that prepare cities for climate change, as well as protect San Diego’s water resources amid a drought-prone future.

The current grants are the third phase of funding through this partnership. As outlined in the foundation’s report “Economic Resilience: Water,” local demand for water in San Diego is expected to increase by 46 percent by 2035.

The 2019 grants also support the findings from the “San Diego, 2050 is Calling. How Will We Answer?” report, which outlines the broad set of challenges San Diego faces from a changing climate — including diminishing water resources, more extreme wildfires and coastal flooding — and calls on community leaders to work together to invest in solutions to manage these risks.

The six nonprofit programs receiving grants include:

San Diego Coastkeeper — $100,000

Achieving Climate-Smart Integrated Water Management and Storm Water Funding in San Diego

This project will help San Diego Coastkeeper build its relationships with the city of San Diego to expand its strategic community engagement, education and outreach efforts, ultimately increasing the likelihood of a successful storm water funding initiative in the future.

Climate Science Alliance — $74,000

Climate and Water Resilience for Natural and Human Communities

Climate Science Alliance aims to build bridges between communities, scientists and key stakeholders with the goal of safeguarding communities and natural resources from the impacts of our changing climate. The grant will support CSA’s work with local native American tribes to build capacity and knowledge within the Tribal Work Group, as well as advance resilience planning and strategies in a region often vulnerable to heat, drought and flash flooding. The grant will also support CSA’s Climate Kids Program, which offers youth education on climate change through immersive science activities, storytelling and art.

Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek — $50,000

Climate Resilience in the Chollas Creek Watershed: A Public/Private Collaborative

Winding through the low-income neighborhoods of City Heights, Barrio Logan, Encanto and Southeastern San Diego, the Chollas Creek Watershed is a system of creeks and canyons in an urbanized part of the city of San Diego that drains into San Diego Bay. As part of this project, Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek will engage with stakeholders and residents along the watershed to develop strategies and policies that address watershed maintenance, storm water control and integrated water management planning in the region.

Center on Policy Initiatives — $50,000

Thirst for Water Equity: A Snapshot of San Diego County Water Boards

This project will assess community engagement efforts by water boards in San Diego County; evaluate racial, gender and socioeconomic diversity among elected and appointed board members; and make recommendations to enhance the diversity of voices included in future water decisions.

Borrego Valley Stewardship Council — $50,000

Capacity Building for Collaborative Governance and Community Resilience through Integrated Master Planning

Located in eastern San Diego County, Borrego Springs relies completely on groundwater pumped from the desert aquifer, which has been declining for decades due to over-pumping. Borrego’s groundwater basin is one of 21 in California that state officials have determined are in “critical overdraft” under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. In compliance with the act, the state is requiring the Borrego Springs community to reduce pumping by 75 percent over the next 20 years. This grant will help the Borrego Valley Stewardship Council develop a community-driven, ecosystem-based, watershed management plan that will help the community become more climate resilient.

San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative — $45,000

Advancing Climate-Smart Water Strategies

In the past year the collaborative has invested resources in revamping its internal governance and membership structure as well as advancing key programmatic areas around energy efficiency and water to support mitigation and adaptation solutions. Through development and delivery of equity programming, this project will allow the collaborative to help regional community leaders understand how equity can be considered in planning and implementation around water.