These nine principles define what it means to be a
Water Centric City.
Water is essential for human life. Sustainable supplies of clean drinking water are essential for cities. With continued population growth and globalization, pressure on our limited water supplies is growing. We need leaders at all levels of government and business that understand the importance of water and advocate for smart water policy and stewardship that balances the needs of today with a sustainable future for our children.
Gathering Place by the Water
People enjoy spending time near pristine water bodies. Lakes, rivers, and the ocean can provide scenic views, recreation, and a sense of peace, wonder, and possibility. Cities can create infrastructure to sustain and restore natural water bodies while increasing community access to these assets.
Technology has the power to make life more convenient and connected. It can also help us access, treat, and deliver water more efficiently than ever before. Entrepreneurs, researchers, and businesses can invest their time and creativity in developing and scaling innovative solutions to our 21st century water challenges.
The built environment on land affects water quality and our resilience to extreme storms. Cities with too much “hardscape” in terms impermeable paved surfaces and rooftops disrupt the natural hydrology of rivers, create urban heat islands, and are vulnerable to flooding. Cities that invest in green infrastructure (green roofs, bioswales, rain gardens, etc) are more pleasant to live in, have better water quality, and are less prone to flood damage.
Applied Water Research and Policy
Sustainable water policy requires a foundation based in science, research, and the best available data. Ignoring the physical limits of our ecosystems and water supplies to replenish themselves will harm the long term economies of cities and their residents. Governments serve their residents when they seek to apply the best available science from academic institutions to inform water policy.
Fishable, Swimmable Rivers And Water Bodies
The Clean Water Act established federal policy for restoring our water resources, with a goal of to making all U.S. waters fishable and swimmable. Cities have made tremendous progress by first focusing on industrial polluters. Cities are now working on reducing polluted runoff from streets, parking lots, and other forms of pollution.
Sustainable Water Supply
Cities require a sustainable supply or water. Reservoirs, surface water supplies, or aquifers must recharge at rate equal to or greater than the rate of water withdrawal by residents, businesses, and agriculture. Due to the interconnections of underground hydrology, special care must be taken when regulating withdrawals from private wells to ensure sustainability for the broader community. Treating and delivering water can also be energy intensive, so there is increasing focus on this energy-water nexus.
Healthy Drinking Water
The public deserves and expects clean drinking water. This requires properly treating water at the source and also delivering it safely to the public through both public water mains and private property service lines to the tap. Protecting drinking water also requires limiting or eliminating toxins and pollutants from entering the natural water bodies, particularly those that are difficult to treat with current technology.
Onsite Water Reuse
As water supplies become scarcer, on-site water reuse is becoming a bigger option to capture and re-use rainwater where it falls. This can reduce the energy-intensity required to treat and move drinking water across long distances.