Focus Area

Climate Change

Overview: Climate Change

Climate change is the defining issue of our time. The impacts of climate change are global in scope, but mitigation, adaptation, and development of resilience to the impacts of climate change starts on a local level. Climate-driven changes in temperature, precipitation, and sea level are projected to have wide-ranging impacts on the Puyallup Watershed in the coming decades.

Key Pressures and Risks

Climate change will exacerbate each of the pressures on the Puyallup Watershed community and ecosystems. Several key pressures are listed below, but they represent only a subset of climate change issues.

Increased flooding

Increased flooding will threaten homes and other infrastructure due to bigger storm events.


Expanding drought conditions will threaten endangered salmon and our local farming industry due to warmer summer temperatures and dwindling snowpack.

Public Health Impacts

Public health will decrease because of extreme heat events, lower air quality, and extreme weather events.

Climate Change Goal

The overall goal for the climate change focus area is to understand and respond to the impacts of climate change.

Sustainability 2030

Sustainability 2030: Pierce County’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan provides a roadmap of measurable and science-based actions to achieve the County’s key goal of reducing government operations-caused and countywide GHG emissions by 45% by 2030 based on 2020 levels.

Tacoma Climate Change Resilience Study

The Tacoma Climate Change Resilience Study documents and describes key climate impacts and vulnerabilities in the region. The plan lays out priority adaptation actions that have been vetted by City departments and community partners.

Puyallup Tribe Climate Change Impact Assessment

The Puyallup Tribe Climate Change Impact Assessment and Adaptation Options report identifies key options to help Tribal staff and members better understand and prepare to proactively manage climate risks to ensure that Tribal customs and the Tribal community can thrive for many generations to come, despite a changing climate.


The effects of climate change disproportionately affect underrepresented communities. One way in which these effects are felt is in changing weather patterns that homes are unprepared for. Unfortunately, upgrading homes is expensive and often cost-prohibitive. Tacoma Public Utilities has a program that offers rebates, loans, and deferred loans to homes and residential properties through its Residential Incentives program. Free estimates can be scheduled through the site as well. Tax credits are also available for these improvements.

Climate Change Success in the Watershed

Tacoma-Pierce County Wood Stove Rule

As of October 1, 2015, it is illegal to purchase or operate an uncertified wood stove in the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone. The new rule requires any wood stove that is not EPA certified to be removed and recycled or rendered inoperable. This rule removes a substantial contributor to air pollution.

Tacoma Public Utilities Community Solar

Tacoma Public Utilities allows utility customers to purchase a share of a community solar project, which provides an annual incentive payment plus payment for electricity produced by the project.

Owen Beach Improvements

Tacoma Metro Parks renovated Owen Beach in 2021. Among other upgrades, Parks moved infrastructure inland based on sea level rise projections.

Priority Actions for Climate Change

Carbon Sequestration

Develop a pilot project for on-farm carbon sequestration practices and quantify the impacts.

Disaster Preparedness

Implement disaster preparedness initiatives such as FireWise, developing natural protective infrastructure, and planting drought and heat resistant plant species for erosion control.

Resilience Hubs

Develop “resilience hubs” across communities to cope with issues such as summer cooling, air quality during fire seasons, etc.