Integrating water issues into the development of a climate change adaptation plan for a rural RCM – A case study of Les Sources RCM

This project will improve the consideration of water resources in the context of regional adaptation to climate change in rural areas through the identification of hazards in the area and the assessment of municipalities’ adaptive capacity.

Project details
Scientific program
2020-2025 programming
Theme(s) and priority(s)
Adaptation of Living Environments
Start and duration
January 2021• July 2022
Project Status
Principal(s) investigator(s)
Alain Webster
Université de Sherbrooke
Joanie Gagnon
Université de Sherbrooke


Climate change poses a great threat to the population as it disrupts the balance of ecosystems. Among other things, it causes increases in the frequency and scope of extreme events and the risk of drinking water shortages. As a result, water resources are central to several eventualities with negative consequences. It is therefore essential that they be considered in order to reduce the impact on the population.


  • To improve the consideration of water resources in the context of adaptation to climate change, both regionally and in rural areas 

  • To identify hazards in the area and assess municipalities’ ability to adapt 

  • To better understand the area’s past, present and future vulnerabilities through climate projections

  • To analyze the water governance of Les Sources RCM and make recommendations


A mixed data collection method was developed. A literature review, online survey and focus groups were used to identify hazards and analyze vulnerability. For the governance assessment, semi-structured interviews were mainly used.


This research project was carried out simultaneously with the creation of a climate change adaptation plan by Les Sources RCM. The participation of the population, the municipalities and the key stakeholders in the RCM resulted in a variety of data to meet both objectives of this research project. 

Analysis of the data collected revealed that, due to future climate change, drinking water availability is likely to be increasingly vulnerable to droughts, floods, heavy rains and ice storms. However, municipalities’ capacity to manage an increase in the intensity or frequency of these hazards is unlikely to be sufficient.

To address these challenges, actions were suggested to strengthen the area’s capacity to adapt and thus reduce its vulnerabilities:

  • Support residents in increasing their resilience in terms of access to safe drinking water

  • Work with a multitude of stakeholders such as farmers to take climate change into account in the amendment of the agricultural zone development plan and to improve water management in agricultural areas 

  • Increase monitoring to prevent property damage and risks to public health and safety

The evaluation of the water governance of Les Sources RCM improved understanding of its strengths and areas for improvement. The results demonstrate goodwill and few conflicts between the parties involved in water resource management and good coordination between the different levels. 

Recommendations were also made regarding:

  • Sharing of information between stakeholders

  • The review of roles and responsibilities

  • The creation of a regional action plan

  • Funding and creation of joint projects

Benefits for adaptation

Benefits for adaptation

The case of Les Sources RCM will allow Quebec RCMs to base themselves on examples of possible solutions when prioritizing actions to respond to the hazards in their areas.

The recommendations to improve water governance will help improve decision-making on the protection of this resource.

Scientific publications

Document type
La prise en compte de l'eau en contexte de changements climatiques par une MRC rurale
Gagnon, Joanie


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