Our foundational report offering a framework for bold leadership towards One Water management in the US water sector.
No matter who we are, where we live, or what we do, water connects all of us. When we embrace the belief that water in all its forms has value—water in our lakes, seas, rivers and streams, drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater—the full water life cycle can be optimized to build strong economies, vibrant communities, and healthy environments.
Our country should rightfully be proud of our investment in the systems and infrastructure that provide so many residents and businesses with reliable water and wastewater service while protecting public health and the environment. However, many of the traditional assumptions and approaches used over the past 200 years to design, build, and operate our existing systems are insufficient to meet the 21st century challenges we face.
One Water is a transformative way of viewing, valuing, and managing water. The One Water approach manages all water—whether from the tap, a stream, a storm, an aquifer, or a sewer—in a collaborative, integrated, inclusive, and holistic manner. One Water can change and regenerate the way we live, the opportunities we have, our environment, and our society.
The hallmarks of One Water are:
- A mindset that all water has value
- A focus on achieving multiple benefits
- A systems approach
- Watershed-scale thinking and action
- Right-sized solutions
- Partnerships for progress
- Inclusion and engagement of all
This report provides an overview of the varied water-related challenges that our nation faces, describes the vision and core principles that guide the One Water approach, and reviews six key arenas where progress is already being made and greater success can be realized.