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Climate Change: Drought and Pala

Pala Environmental Department PED PBMI Climate Change

Welcome to the Climate Change series brought to you by Pala Band of Mission Indians and the Pala Environmental Department.

Pala Environmental Department Climate Change Climate Series PED

What does drought mean for Pala?
Pala completed a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in 2019, which identified drought as one of four high-risk exposures resulting from climate change.

Key Facts about Drought at Pala
Drought is defined as a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall resulting in water deficits and low soil moisture. It is one of the most pervasive climate-induced weather exposures for tribes and can increase the risk of wildfire and flooding. Recent droughts have reached record intensity in some regions of the US such as the Southwest. Climate projections suggest the Southwest may transition to a more arid climate on a permanent basis over the next century and beyond.

Although the 2017 and 2018 rain seasons were somewhat wet in Southern CA, drought in San Diego is projected to persist. Pala’s 2016 Hazard Mitigation Plan indicates that drought conditions were reported in 10 of the last 16 years and are likely in the future. Prolonged low average annual rainfall rates are expected to exacerbate water shortages on the Reservation resulting from growing water demand in the region and complex history of water diversion by new settlers and legal battles over water rights.

Pala staff report that the San Luis Rey River and Pala Creek no longer have a regular flow. Drought is known to trigger secondary exposures such as worsened air quality (ozone, dust, fungus, and allergens), water insecurity, and vector changes (e.g. mosquitos).

Pala’s High-Risk Health Impacts
Did you know that drought can harm our physical, emotional, spiritual and cultural health and wellbeing? Below are health impacts considered the high or medium risk for residents of Pala.

  • Drinking water supply interruption
  • Short or long-term relocation
  • Respiratory illness and Valley Fever
  • Lost work, school, or business days
  • Declines of culturally important plants and animals
  • Illness and death caused the West Nile Virus and Zika

Tips for Staying Safe During Drought

Learn More

What Is Pala Doing to Adapt and Prepare?
Pala completed an Adaptation Plan with a full list of strategies to help safeguard the health and wellbeing of the Pala community. Below are a few examples of ways we plan to address drought threats.

  • Increase the water storage capacity
  • Develop or promote water conservation or efficiency policies or programs to help households, businesses and agricultural operations replace irrigation systems and install drought-resistant landscaping and water recycling systems.
  • Install automated irrigation systems on agricultural lands that utilize soil moisture monitors that can track when crops need water.


Feel free to download our tip sheet: Climate Change – Drought and Pala (.pdf).

Climate Change – Drought and Pala, Page 1

Pala Environmental Department Climate Change PED

Climate Change – Drought and Pala, Page 2

Pala Environmental Department Climate Change PED

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760-891-3510 | |