One Water is a collaborative water planning and operational approach that uses diverse and connected strategies to manage limited water resources. Its goal is for both communities and ecosystems to be healthy and resilient.
Graphic inspiration courtesy of US Water Alliance
Because One Water is a water management approach, rather than a prescribed set of tasks and check boxes, it looks different for every community. It can begin by bringing various new stakeholders into the planning process, which allows communities to take a bigger-picture approach as they take inventory of and address different challenges and opportunities. It also allows communities to map out how water fits into other key venues, such as parks, industry, development and business growth, and to create opportunities for water to move seamlessly and efficiently through these different aspects of community living.You can see One Water in action in St. James County, Florida; Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Austin, Texas (Austin is currently drafting a 100-year water supply plan with One Water principles).
For example: About 90 percent of Los Angeles’ water supplies are imported. This leaves the city vulnerable in the face of many challenges, including recurring droughts, rising water demands, aging infrastructure and a changing climate.
To help combat these challenges, LA created a One Water plan. They brought the community into the process and hosted 65+ public presentations and discussions. Some of the city’s One Water projects include reusing water, adding stormwater capture to LA schools, investing in nature-based development solutions, and developing wetland and creek parks.
One Water helps communities stay flexible and resilient by reducing water demands and diversifying water supplies.