Climate change and watershed planning in Washington State


Whitely Binder, L.C. 2006. Climate change and watershed planning in Washington State. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 42(4):915-926.


This paper draws on interviews with Washington State Watershed Planning Leads (Leads) and interactions with local watershed planning units to identify factors that may influence the inclusion of climate change in watershed planning efforts in Washington State. These factors include the interest of individual planning unit members in climate change; Lead familiarity with climate impacts; the influence of trust, leadership, and “genetic knowledge” on planning units; and perceptions of strategic gain.

The research also identified aspects of the planning process that may create opportunities for addressing climate impacts in future planning. These aspects include continuation of watershed planning units after plans are developed; commitment to updating watershed plans; recognizing climate impacts in planning documentation; dedicated incentive funding; and the availability of hydrologic modeling tools for assessing hydrologic impacts. Additional types of technical assistance that could support integration of climate impacts are also identified.

It is hoped that the insight provided by this analysis will help individuals involved in stakeholder-based watershed planning recognize the various dynamics potentially affecting the inclusion of climate change in watershed planning, and in doing so, contribute to the development of planning approaches and tools that will support local efforts to adapt to climate impacts.