Capturing Water While Supporting Ecosystems: Report Provides a Pathway for Water-Conscious Communities to Keep Their Rivers Flowing

October 12, 2020, Oakland, California — As forward-thinking cities become increasingly adept at capturing and reusing wastewater, stormwater, and greywater, essential river systems may be at risk. A report released last month suggests deliberate, community-driven planning is urgently needed to avoid depriving adjacent waterways of necessary water.

The report, from the National Wildlife Federation, the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, and the Pacific Institute, provides planners some much-needed practical guidance on how to build a community-driven water vision that takes into account the needs of local residents as well as downstream cities and ecosystems that depend on a healthy flow of water.

“Even best-intentioned water uses can alter the flow patterns of freshwater ecosystems we depend on,” said Jennifer Walker, deputy director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Texas Coast and Water Program. “Many cities are aware of the potential broader effects of local capture and reuse initiatives, but lack practical guidance on how to incorporate these concerns into current planning processes. We designed this framework to give decision-makers both a template and a toolkit to improve planning for healthy waterways in their communities. This report should serve as a launching pad for cities nationwide to adopt water plans that are both community-driven and beneficial to broader ecosystems.”

Entitled Ensuring One Water Delivers for Healthy Waterways: A Framework for Incorporating Healthy Waterways into One Water Plans and Projects, the report is tailored specifically to cities that have adopted or are considering the increasingly popular “One Water” approach to water management. One Water emphasizes an integrated planning and implementation approach that acknowledges the finite nature of water resources and prioritizes long-term resilience and reliability. The report suggests planners who wish to fully realize One Water’s commitment to sustainable communities and ecosystems need to explicitly address threats to environmental flows. The authors’ framework provides a roadmap to begin integrating a concern for healthy waterways into existing planning processes.

Learn more and download the report here