The credible case for One Water

The state of Texas is a behemoth. At some 268,820 square miles — from the Piney Woods of East Texas, the Texas Hill Country and the Texas Panhandle to the desert mountains of West Texas and the Texas Gulf Coast — the Lone Star State encompasses disparate climate regions, each with varied economic, social and environmental drivers.

As climate change continues, each of these areas will change. As a general rule, scientists predict a significantly warmer and drier climate — with occasional catastrophic flooding. And water, which is the lifeblood of, well, pretty much everything, is at stake.

It’s time for collaborative, comprehensive action: community leaders, water planners and policymakers need to make happen a bold, innovative, yet commonsensical approach to our traditional urban water management.

Enter “One Water,” a more resilient, sustainable strategy, sometimes referred to as integrated water management.

One Water considers the urban water cycle as a single integrated system, where all urban water flows are recognized as potential resources. This unconventional approach is practiced through the inclusive and jointly planned control of all water systems — where all waters (e.g., wastewater, stormwater, rainwater, drinking water) are considered resources and are valued and put to use.

Texans have done an excellent job of reacting to weather crises, coalescing around major problems and affecting change out of necessity. But much too often, we look to outdated tactics to plan for our future challenges.

Read more from the Emily Warren, Water Program Officer with the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and Radhika Fox, Chief Executive Officer with the US Water Alliance on the Texas Tribune’s TribTalk here.