As demands on the water sector increase, leaders interested in shaping the future of water management are pushing the notion that water is water, whether its drinking water, stormwater or wastewater. Doing so, according to the experts, encourages "comprehensive thinking, planning and management of our waters on a transformational scale.
Pressures to the industry and a need to make better use of resources has forced a new paradigm that requires more integrated plans and actions, a renewed focus on technology innnovation, and an interest in leveraging resources through strategic partnerships.
"While drinking water, wastewater and stormwater each have a different slot in the water cycle, they are inseparable in the larger context of water quality and supply, and water for future generations. We can no longer look at each sector separately. By continually investing in our systems, as well as innovative technologies that increase efficiency and sustainability, we are committed to addressing these challenges. When the infrastructure is reliable and functioning smoothly, there is less water loss, leaving a larger supply of water available for society. The cycle of water comes full circle," explains Dr. Mark LeChevallier, Director, Innovation & Environmental Stewardship at American Water.
Transformation from Stovepiped Approach to Holistic Approach Happening
In order to advance the "One Water" notion of integrated water management, transformation must take place. There is evidence of significant momentum for this change to move from the current "stovepiped approach to managing water" to a more holistic approach addressing all stages of the hydrologic cycle.
For example, the U.S. Water Alliance, led by President Ben Grumbles, former USEPA Assistant Administrator for Water, is building a network of leaders representing an array of research foundations, national trade associations, federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to unite for integrated water management. Last September, the organization hosted its 4th One Water Leadership Summit which challenged leaders to think differently about sustainably managing limited urban water resources and resource recovery innovation and drives the paradigm shift for water sustainability.
Universal Objectives for a "One Water" Communication Portfolio
This transformation requires that we address the communication challenges in a holistic way and create a universal objectives framework to support and guide the growing number of voices supporting water. This is critical to our clean water future. Here are some universal objectives that can take water from invisible to invaluable:
Our Actions Define How We Value Water
How we value water will be or can be defined by the evidence of positive actions that we take to conserve it, fix leaking pikes and upgrade aging infrastructure, improve the way that this global asset is managed, protect the quality of our waters, maintain water quality standards, develop innovative technologies that improve efficiency and management of water, and execute sustainable water resource management strategies that guarantee the future of water.
We are all stakeholders of the hydrologic cycle. Informed and educated stakeholders will think about, value and manage water in a different way. Communication can get us to gold…I mean blue.
About The Author
Accredited business communicator, water communication expert, and counsel to CEOs, scientists, engineers and professional communicators, Donna delivers holistic, value-based and industry-relevant solutions and results. Donna is actively involved in engagement with global water leaders at highest levels of business, government, associations, and international organizations. She is a multipotentialite, a fan of Einstein, and an avid environment and nature photographer who frequently writes about water issues.
Image credit: "Water," © 2007 celebdu, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/