Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning

Developed cooperatively by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Resources Legacy Fund, and The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the “Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning” provides a framework for considering climate change in water management planning. Key decision considerations, resources, tools, and planning options are presented to guide resource managers and planners as they develop means of adapting their programs to a changing climate.

The handbook uses CA DWR's Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) planning framework as a model into which analysis of climate change impacts and planning for adaptation and mitigation can be integrated. Although this handbook is focused on the IRWM process, it can be used by other practitioners nationally and internationally when incorporating climate change into any watershed or water supply planning process.

This guide considers both climate change adaptation and mitigation – and quantitative tools and techniques for addressing both are introduced and discussed in order to prepare comprehensive IRWM plans.

The Handbook includes:

• The science of climate change, tools and links;
• Evaluating the energy-water connection and greenhouse gas emissions;
• Assessing regional vulnerability to climate change;
• Measuring regional impacts;
• Evaluating projects, resource management strategies, and Integrated Regional Water Management Plans with respect to climate change;
• Implementing and quantifying uncertainty; and
• Case studies illustrating a range of climate change adaptation and mitigation issues within and outside of California.


Section 6 “Evaluating Projects, Resource Management Strategies,and IRWM Plan Benefits with Climate Change” considers transition from climate vulnerabilities, performance metrics, and how to incorporate climate change objectives with other planning objectives. How to evaluate project performance using climate-related performance metrics is discussed in terms of evaluating individual projects and project portfolios. 

Adaptation Strategies are discussed under umbrella concepts including:

- Decrease water demand
- Improve operational efficiency and transfers
- Increase water supply
- Improve water quality
- Practice resource stewardship


This handbook and a searchable database of climate change resources can be downloaded from:


Publication Date: November 2011

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  • Planning guides

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