The One Water approach offers tremendous opportunities for improving how water is managed within communities. Using water efficiently and taking advantage of diverse, locally available water supplies are important goals. It is also important that the approach support communities in assessing how their water use affects the health of waterways, both upstream, where water is sourced, and downstream, where other communities and aquatic resources may be impacted.
Local water capture and reuse technologies are some of the most successful innovations featured in One Water plans and projects. However, they may also pose an inadvertent threat to river flows as maximum use of these sources can starve natural systems of needed flows and potentially reduce water available to communities downstream. To realize the full potential of the One Water approach, planners should explicitly acknowledge and quantitatively assess potential threats to healthy waterways, and incorporate actions to protect (and where possible, enhance) river flows downstream for the benefit of people and the environment.
Building on our initial 2019 report on One Water planning and healthy waterways considerations, this report presents a planning framework to assist communities in implementing the One Water approach in a way that optimizes water supplies to cities and keeps water flowing for the creeks, rivers, and bays that support healthy fish, wildlife, and their habitats.