Water Resources

Water resources planning and management is connected to water conservation and efficiency, as water conservation can provide a source of “supply” in a water utility portfolio and is therefore a water resource. As a matter of policy, any water conservation planning should be fully integrated into overall utility water resources supply planning, so that the benefits and costs of conservation programs can be properly compared against the benefits and costs of other water supply options on a level playing field. This is especially important now that the focus of many current water resource planning efforts is related to long-term sustainable water use, using one-water planning principles on a watershed planning basis.

Developing a number of water supply options that include water conservation is at the heart of the integrated resource planning approach (also called IRP). As described in research published by the American Water Works Association, one of the central tenets of IRP is achieving water management goals at the least cost.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), American Rivers, and the Environmental Law Institute partnered on a project funded by The Walton Family Foundation to outline the practical possibilities for linking water efficiency efforts and healthier instream flows in the Colorado River basin. If a stretch of water is identified as needing improved instream flow, and a realistic opportunity for improving water efficiency exists, willing partners generally can build the bridges necessary to overcome other challenges.