Water Blog 1 - August 21, 2018

What Does the ‘One Water’ Movement Stand For?

Ultimately, all water can be considered recycled water since the same water droplets are repeatedly part of the Earth’s water cycle. Stormwater that makes it into the aquifer is absorbed by plants, transpired into the clouds as condensation, and then falls to the ground again as precipitation. Modern day civilization has managed to interrupt this perfect cycle by over-extracting and introducing contaminants, but water remains valuable regardless of how it’s been treated. Where previously water was defined by its use- stormwater, wastewater, drinking water- the One Water movement is working to promote the intrinsic value that all forms of water represent.

Underlying the One Water approach is the desire to design and implement projects and programs with a focus on achieving multiple economic, environmental, and social benefits. These designs must respect and respond to the natural flows of watersheds and the ecosystems, geology, and hydrology of the area. The US Water Alliance has developed a roadmap towards a more sustainable, One Water approach to water management that includes the following guiding principles:

  • All water has value: All water has an intrinsic value and all water must be managed carefully to maximize its benefit.
  • Achieve multiple benefits: Design and implement projects and programs with a focus on achieving multiple benefits- economic, environmental, and social.
  • Take a systems approach: Tackle problems based on the complete life cycle of water and larger infrastructure systems to identify and advance more effective and lasting solutions.
  • Watershed-scale thinking and action: Make decisions at the level of the watershed, taking into consideration the unique features of an area.
  • Right-sized solutions: Understand the appropriate scale for the most impact.
  • Partnerships for progress: Since all sectors are part of a water-secure future, partnerships are the cornerstone to progress.
  • Inclusion and engagement of all: Since all people have a stake in ensuring a water-secure future, everyone should be included.

 Since the One Water approach is gaining traction throughout various sectors, areas of action have been devised to help create the most impactful benefits. The arenas for action cover a range of issue areas, including: reliable and resilient water utilities, thriving cities, sustainable agriculture; competitive business and industry, social and economic inclusion, and healthy waterways. Together these actions should lead to tangible changes in the way water is managed, used, and expended.