Integrating Water-related Climate Change Adaptation into Local Comprehensive Plans

Purpose of this Section

This section of the WRE Guidance Update discusses:

  • the need to integrate climate change into the WRE from both a practical and statutory perspective;
  • the role of the Sensitive Areas Element in supporting the integration of climate change into the WRE; and,
  • discusses integration of the WRE, Sensitive Areas Element and other local plans and studies that outline water hazards.

In addition, this section of the WRE Guidance provides:

  • best practices concerning addressing water-related climate change issues in the Sensitive Areas Element and for ensuring coordination between the WRE and the Sensitive Areas Element;
  • ​best practices for assessing water hazard risks and accounting for climate change adaptation in different WRE analyses;
  • an overview of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) framework for hazard management planning;
  • details regarding the various water-related climate change risks to water resources, water infrastructure and to communities;
  • suggested tools for data and analysis; and,
  • suggested WRE strategy approaches and language.

By providing information on the variety of risks posed by climate change to local water resources, water infrastructure and communities; available data and analysis tools; and suggested strategy approaches and language, this section of the WRE Guidance Update facilitates the development of local water-related climate change adaptation strategies to include in the WRE and the Sensitive Areas Element.

Best practices that are part of the WRE checklists are in bold. Best practices and background material that is more detailed or technical in nature are identified in red font.

General Expectations for WRE to Integrate Climate Change Adaptation

This section of the WRE Guidance Update provides best practices for integrating climate change adaptation into the WRE.

The following is a checklist of general expectations for integrating climate change adaptation into the WRE:

  • MDE and Planning request that local governments meet the best practices in this section of the WRE Guidance Update as best as they can within the limitations of cost and time.
  • Ideally, local governments will complete necessary data compilation and analyses before a comprehensive plan update begins; however, when time, staff and/or financial resources are not available, the WRE should identify data gaps, issues to be addressed and needed studies and analyses, which should be completed before the subsequent comprehensive plan update.
  • At a minimum, the WRE should be updated to include strategies focused on improving local understanding of expected water-related climate change impacts at the local level, and if sufficient information exists, the WRE should add strategies to address these impacts.

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