The impacts of climate change are being felt across the Western United States. Warming is affecting water supplies by changing the overall annual volume of precipitation and altering the balance of rain versus snowfall. Communities are facing increasing problems with water availability and drought, flooding, and increased risk of forest fires. The requirements established by Secretarial Order 3289, Departmental Manual 523 DM 1, Executive Order 13653, and Reclamation’s Directives and Standards CMP 09-02 for feasibility studies reinforces the need for Reclamation’s on-going programs to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change and for continued efforts to incorporate climate change information into aspects of our mission where it has not been fully considered in the past such as in decisions regarding ecosystem restoration, reservoir operations, infrastructure investments and planning capacity.
This document is an important step to reinforcing Reclamation’s planning capacity by providing guidance to help study teams navigate the range of planning and technical methods available to account for climate change impacts in feasibility studies. The effects of climate change have altered and will continue to alter the basic assumptions underlying Reclamation’s water resources planning. Effective water management and planning rely on an understanding of climate change impacts on water supply, demand, and criteria that govern or guide water management. The guidance in this document may also be applied to environmental compliance studies since they are typically conducted concurrently with feasibility studies. The guidance is organized around the planning and technical framework for conducting a feasibility study as detailed in CMP 09-02, and which occurs in two phases: the scoping phase and the alternative formulation and evaluation phase.