One Water: The New Way to Plan

For members of APA, water has become a galvanizing issue. In a survey of planners released at the national planning conference in Phoenix, 80 percent of respondents listed water as a top issue facing their communities. The majority of planners now agree that learning to live with water, instead of avoiding it, is a necessity.

That's why last week in Washington, D.C., planners joined with colleagues from stormwater management and water agencies to celebrate Water Week 2016 — a time when water sector professionals come together to stress the need for investment in water infrastructure and planning for water.

This year, APA partnered with our longtime friends from the Royal Netherlands Embassy to explore how the Dutch are helping U.S. cities of all sizes rethink their strategy for water management.

Explore the tweets below from our joint Water Week event to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing cities as they reconsider how they live with water:

The Dutch are leading the way in innovative solutions for water management.

Since 2008, APA has teamed up with Dutch thought leaders on study tours, conference sessions, and discussions to better understand how integrating water management and resilience efforts equals healthier, more resilient communities in the long term. The Dutch have long been advocates for the "one water" approach to planning for water management and resilience.

At the Water Week 2016 panel discussion, Netherlands' Special Envoy for International Water Affairs spoke to water issues facing cities across the globe.

Attendees at Embracing Resilience through Comprehensive Water Planning heard case studies of innovation from Baltimore, New Orleans, and Norfolk. While it's true these three places all face rising sea levels, it's also true they're challenging the status quo by finding new ways to connect policy reform, design, and development.

At Water Week 2016, planners from the DC metro region learned Baltimore is the first city in the country to create a disaster-preparedness plan.

Kristin Baja, Climate and Resilience Planner for Baltimore's Office of Sustainability, noted that the city is addressing inequity in water planning head on by involving residents at every stage of the planning process. It's by this process that the city has developed its disaster-preparedness plan — the first of its kind anywhere in the country.

The Royal Netherlands Embassy tweeted about the importance of finding the benefits of planning at Water Week 2016 discussion.

In Norfolk, planners infuse innovation into traditional bureaucratic processes by ensuring all projects have multiple benefits. George Homewood, Director of Planning for the City of Norfolk, was quick to point out that detriments are just as important to spotlight as the benefits.

To learn about the steps APA is taking as an organization to advance its "one water" policy agenda, check out our 2016 legislative priorities and the latest updates from the Water Working Group.

About the Author

Emily Pasi is APA's communications and outreach associate.

Top image: Amsterdam by night. The Dutch have been influential in helping U.S. rethink approaches to water management. Photo by Flickr user Kostas Fines (CC BY 2.0).

Other images: Tweets from the APA-Royal Netherlands Embassy Water Week 2016 event. Images courtesy Emily Pasi, Royal Netherlands Embassy, and Henk Ovink.

April 19, 2016

By Emily Pasi