Strategic Approaches for Revitalizing Water-Resource Infrastructure in the USA
Approved by The Board of Directors of the American Water Resources Association at its August 22, 2017 meeting, as proposed by the Policy Committee of AWRA.
Replacement and refurbishment of water-resource infrastructure offers tremendous opportunities to improve the nation's communities, economy, and ecosystems. In order to fully realize these opportunities, participants should consider solutions that could improve overall outcomes as compared with the pre-existing infrastructure systems that are being replaced or improved. When refurbishing, replacing, or developing water-resource infrastructure, project proponents, funders, and permitting agencies should design for multiple objectives, engage the full range of beneficiaries and stakeholders, and explore alternative approaches and configurations that can maximize the overall benefits to society.
The water-resource infrastructure of the USA includes both natural and built storage, conveyance, treatment, drainage, wastewater, flood management, coastal defense, reuse, and many other components. Much of this infrastructure is aging and in need of being decommissioned, replaced, rehabilitated, re-sized, or redesigned. Strategic approaches, as described herein, are needed to take advantage of the opportunities this situation presents.
Opportunities exist to:
- incorporate an integrated water resources management (IWRM) perspective;
- plan comprehensively for aging and new infrastructure and for infrastructure serving different purposes; and
- rebuild water-resource infrastructure to more effectively serve the needs of communities and the environment.
To realize these opportunities, infrastructure investments must be grounded in sound, interdisciplinary analyses of watershed-scale physical, ecological, and human processes. For example, local-scale projects should be embedded in scientific understanding of upstream/downstream hydrologic, geomorphic, ecological, and social effects. (In coastal areas, similar thinking should be applied to encompass the range of coastal processes interacting with project sites).
Water-resource infrastructure should be based on plans, processes, or agreements where proponents have:
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- engaged a range of affected jurisdictions and stakeholders;
- applied integrated water resource management and ecosystem services perspectives to determine project objectives and the range of possible solutions and construction methods; and
- worked across institutional boundaries to coordinate with other areas of planning such as those related to land use, environmental protection, ecosystem restoration, and economic development.
Coming Soon - AWRA’s definition and position statement on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the United States.