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AWRA Policy Statements
Integrated Water Resources Management in the US
This effort will take a national commitment to:
The American Water Resources Association is committed to helping organizations throughout the nation further the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management.
Issue: The Fourth National Water Policy Dialogue, co-sponsored by AWRA, described the state of the nation's water this way:
The United States faces severe water resource challenges today and in the decades ahead. The Nation must deal with significant drought, floods, growing threats to its water quality, continuing loss of wetlands and the impact of these losses on the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains and estuaries, and a water resources infrastructure that is aging, in need of revitalization and whose collapse would threaten our economic vitality. The potential impacts of climate change that could increase the intensity of floods, severity of droughts and change or weaken the health and stability of many ecosystems only add to the challenge. [ iii ]
Most striking about these challenges is the clear and intimate way in which they interconnect. Today, we understand that water quality cannot be managed separately from water quantity, and that water management cannot be divorced from our stewardship of the land. We realize we cannot protect or restore ecosystems or enjoy the services they provide if we do not safeguard the flow regimes and quality of water on which these systems depend. We know we cannot improve quality of life or ensure sustainability of communities if we ignore the water resources on which they rely. In short, we recognize that water resources cannot be managed sustainably without active and purposeful recognition of their many linkages and varied interconnections. This recognition, in fact, requires a holistic approach to water and the practice of integrated water resources management.
Rationale: The water resources issues we face as a nation and as tribes, states and communities are complex, costly and challenging. At least since the 1992 International Conference on Water and the Environment and its Dublin Statement, which called upon governments to assess their capacity to implement integrated water resources management, the water resources community has argued for the active and purposeful recognition of water's interconnections. [ iv ] In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg went beyond calls for the assessment of capacity by asking all countries to establish Integrated Water Resources Management plans.[ v ] And in 2010, the national collaboration spearheaded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identified Integrated Water Resources Management as a key part of a national agenda for sustainable water resources management. [ vi ]
The national collaboration identified Integrated Water Resources Management
as a preferred way to plan and manage public water and related water
resources planning and management. Among other things, it suggested:
Still, Integrated Water Resources Management suffers from a lack of clear
definition, the lack of standard measures to track the success of Integrated
Water Resources Management plans and projects, and the absence of guidance
for those involved in planning and project development. With this position
statement, the American Water Resources Association signals its commitment
to addressing these issues in furthering Integrated Water Resources Management.
[ i ] Participants in the national collaboration process spearheaded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers defined IWRM in this manner: “IWRM aims to develop and manage water, land, and related resources, while considering multiple viewpoints of how water should be managed (i.e. planned, designed and constructed, managed, evaluated, and regulated). It is a goal-directed process for controlling the development and use of river, lake, ocean, wetland, and other water assets in ways that integrate and balance stakeholder interests, objectives, and desired outcomes across levels of governance and water sectors for the sustainable use of the earth’s resources.” See: National Report: Responding to National Water Resources Challenges, Building Strong Collaborative Relationships for a Sustainable Water Resources Future, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C., August 2010, page 28.
[ ii ] The Global Water Partnership, an international network that offers practical advice for sustainably managing water resources, defines IWRM as “a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.”
[ iv ]The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development: http://www.wmo.ch/pages/prog/hwrp/documents/english/icwedece.html.
[ v ]World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2002: http://www.johannesburgsummit.org/html/documents/summit_docs/2009_keyoutcomes_commitments.pdf.
If you have questions about any of the above policy statements, please feel free to contact AWRA.