Much of the research on climate change adaptation in rapidly urbanizing developing regions focuses primarily on adaptation or resilience as the goal, assumes that climate change is the major stressor, and focuses on the household or the city as the unit of analysis. In this article, we use findings from two rapidly urbanizing sub-basins of the Cauvery River in southern India (the Arkavathy and Noyyal sub-basins) to argue for a broader analytic and policy framework that explicitly considers multiple normative concerns and stressors, and uses the entire watershed as the unit of analysis to address the climate–water interaction.