Water is a central organizing element in a healthy and sustainable built environment and planning for water an inherently interdisciplinary activity. While planners have not traditionally worked directly on water and wastewater systems, they are often engaged in natural resources conservation and management, floodplain management, and green infrastructure projects. Planners play a key role as conveners across disciplines and are working collaboratively with water professionals to integrate water needs and challenges into local plans and regulations.

APA is actively engaging members to identify the needs and priorities of and provide resources to planners who are focused on water issues in their communities.

Integrated Water Resource Management

Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), also known as One Water, is an approach to managing water that looks holistically at the planning and management of water supply, wastewater, and stormwater systems. IWRM is based upon the idea that all water within a watershed is hydrologically interconnected and is most effectively and sustainably managed using an integrated approach that addresses water supply, wastewater, and stormwater as one resource — because that is how it exists in nature. Land use and growth management decisions have impacts — both direct and indirect — on water resources. These include impacts on water quality, water demand, and water supply. IWRM approaches can have a number of benefits, including improved resource sustainability (greater reliability, security, and resilience), conservation of natural waters and related ecosystems, and flood avoidance.

APA and Integrated Water Resource Management

In 2014, APA created the Water Task Force to evaluate the link between water management and land use planning, and to offer recommendations to APA's Board for improved policy and practice. APA then formed a Water Working Group to carry out the recommendations of the Task Force. The Water Working Group focused on creating a better understanding of planners' work related to water, water policy, and bridging the knowledge gap for planners. This included a survey focused on planners' engagement in water issues, as well as the update of the Water Policy Guide to emphasize a One Water approach, and the publication of a PAS Report, Planners and Water.

Water and Planning Network

Get Engaged!

The Water and Planning Network is an Interest Group focused on integrated water resource management. It's mission is to provide a professional forum for the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and planning methods and it operates as a communications and information sharing network to connect members to the best planning practices that reflect current research, science, policy and technology regarding the protection, management and use of water resources and utilities.

Integrated Water Resource Management Knowledgebase

Learn more about Integrated Water Resource Management through APA's dedicated KnowledgeBase collection. This collection catalogs resources that provide background and policy guidance or demonstrate how local, regional, and state agencies are using plans, regulations, and programs to manage water resources in an integrated way. Support for this collection was provided by a grant from the Pisces Foundation, which seeks ways to accelerate to a world where people and nature thrive together.