From meeting increasing demand with aging water infrastructure to planning for extreme weather events, the challenges of managing water wisely are growing ever more numerous and complex.
The World Resources Institute recently released a report, Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States, on how forests, wetlands, and floodplains can play a central role in avoiding and alleviating water-related crises. Drawing on the expertise of more than 50 authors, the report describes in detail how currently underutilized natural infrastructure might be harnessed to improve water management practices, and the many opportunities there are for doing so. The case studies included range from forest-based efforts in Maine, Oregon, North Carolina, Colorado, and Washington to a stormwater control program on Staten Island, New York.
The report is intended to be “a call to action for water utility staff and land managers alike to bring natural infrastructure into focus in their institutions, with this guide as a foundation from which businesses and municipalities can innovate in the face of a growing water crisis.” By investing in natural infrastructure now, water managers can both reduce the costs of water management and help to ensure access to clean water for generations to come.
The full report can be read online here.
Recommend downloading the WRI report, and reading it, particularly if you are actively working in water conservation and in water system supply professional roles. It’s an obvious point that retaining forested areas provides clean fresh water supply at low costs. As a nation, it’s regrettable such a large report is needed to make this key point.