One Water Strategies Provide Global Benefits and Develop Resilient Communities

Published 01-13-21

Submitted by Tetra Tech


Using One Water strategies can address environmental threats, while improving the economy, quality of life, and environmental health.

Water plays a vital role in our lives every day, and the importance of water around the world is extremely evident today. When public health is compromised, communities rely on safe and secure water supplies to support and restore public health. One Water strategies increase sustainability, combat climate change, and improve water quality.

Threats to sustainable, reliable communities include:

  • Increased drought and water scarcity
  • Extreme wet weather and increased flooding
  • Higher storm surges and sea level rise along coastlines
  • More rapid ecosystem degradation, including negative water quality impacts

These challenges threaten our economy, quality of life, and environmental health—all of which we must protect for the sake of future generations. For those of us involved in water management, there has never been a better time to act.

By Leading with Science®, Tetra Tech is implementing actionable solutions to ongoing water challenges using innovation and emerging technologies. We can shape a more resilient water future through a One Water approach, where all forms of water—surface water, seawater, groundwater, wastewater, and stormwater—are managed in a way that makes the best use of water’s life cycle. By recognizing the vital role water plays in everyday life around the world, we can better manage water to build strong economies, vibrant communities, and healthy environments. One Water emphasizes recovery, recycling, and reuse in the management of water. The One Water approach manages water resources by balancing ecosystem processes with the needs of communities, industry, agriculture, and habitats.

For World Water Day, we stand with our clients who champion and invest in innovative One Water management practices to promote the value of water within their communities. We also encourage all water industry professionals to become changemakers by developing and implementing One Water strategies to help people appreciate the importance of water in their lives. Three strategies that support a One Water approach include:

Resource Recovery and Reuse – Build water infrastructure that safely and cost-effectively recovers water and other resources, such as heat, solids, nutrients, and minerals, for reuse at the site, neighborhood, and community scales. Projects that could be evaluated and implemented as part of this focus strategy include:

  • Reclaimed water and nutrient recovery retrofits at the municipal scale
  • Advanced treatment of reclaimed water for groundwater recharge and potable reuse
  • Reuse of gray water for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing and boiler water
  • Expanded organics recycling and composting operations
  • Decentralized wastewater projects that recycle effluent back into the landscape for irrigation

Resilient Infrastructure Design – Incentivize more climate-resilient development to maximize economic and social community benefits:

  • Perform policy and code reviews to remove barriers and add incentives to encourage the use of green infrastructure (GI) and low impact development (LID) practices. GI and LID practices include rain gardens, pervious pavements, vegetated rooftops, and bioretention areas
  • Facilitate public workshops and charrettes to help community planners, architects, and developers visualize and define better site design in their community
  • Create policies to support cluster development and conservation-based housing developments
  • Research modern design techniques, such as GI practices and renewable energy, while also considering old-world village planning and building methods. Communicate supporting data and existing examples that demonstrate better site design’s triple-bottom-line benefits to people, planet, and profit.

Stormwater and Pervious Land Management – Promote opportunities that improve ecosystem processes on existing open lands:

  • Use native landscaping alternatives in urban environments
  • Support soil reconditioning to increase soil health
  • Encourage the planting of trees and other vegetation to reduce erosion and improve hydrology
  • On rural farmland, use practices such as cover crops, compost seeding, no-till cropping, rotational grazing, and implementing agroforestry systems to maintain healthy soil

These One Water strategies can reduce vulnerability to climate events, thereby reducing the risk to life, the economy, and the ecosystem. As presented in this blog, these strategies also provide the opportunity to improve public health, increase property values, enhance community aesthetics and activities, and increase job opportunities.

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