A Multi-Benefit Approach to Water Management

Adapting to climate change, coupled with addressing aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded ecosystems, will require rethinking programs and policies and investing in our natural and built water systems.

This shift will take many forms, from restoring watersheds to improving water efficiency and stormwater management, and will address a combination of flood risk, water quality, and water supply objectives. In addition to strengthening our water systems, these strategies can support our communities and the environment.

Because water is deeply linked with economic, environmental, and community well-being, sustainable water management can provide a broad range of benefits, such as reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, providing wildlife habitat, and enhancing community livability.

Developing Solutions through Multiple Benefits

Government agencies, businesses, communities, and many others have acknowledged the importance of water management strategies that provide multiple benefits, yet there is no standardized approach for systematically identifying and evaluating these benefits or additional trade-offs.

In collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders, researchers at the Pacific Institute and Professor Bob Wilkinson at the University of California, Santa Barbara have developed a framework to help water managers incorporate multiple benefits and trade-offs into water management decisions. This multi-benefit framework can help water managers:

  • Engage with stakeholders and decision makers to improve support for a policy or project;
  • Identify cost sharing opportunities among project stakeholders;
  • Improve equitable investments in communities and minimize adverse and unintended consequences;
  • Quantify and compare the potential benefits provided by water management options; and
  • Optimize the investment of time, money, and other resources.

Learn more from Pacific Institute researchers Sarah Diringer and Morgan Shimabuku on how the multi-benefit framework can help advance more equitable and sustainable water solutions.

Explore the Multi-Benefit Framework


Photo Credits

Bioswale: Eric Fischer; Purple pipe: Grendelkhan, Wikipedia; River: iStock