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General Studies 3 >> Enivornment & Ecology

ONE WATER APPROACH

ONE WATER APPROACH


1.Background

  • Water is the most crucial natural resource for every form of life, yet it remains undervalued and inadequately managed worldwide. An integrated approach towards all sources of water is the need of the hour. 
  • The United Nations has estimated that by the year 2050, four billion people will be seriously affected by water shortages, which might lead to multiple conflicts between countries over water sharing. At the global level, 31 countries are already facing a shortage of water and by 2025, there will be 48 countries facing serious water shortages.
  • Recognising, measuring and expressing water’s worth and incorporating that into decision-making is still a challenge, apart from the water scarcity.
  • Failure to value water in all its forms is considered a prime cause of the mismanagement of water, according to the UN World Water Development Report 2021, published by UNESCO on behalf of the UN-Water.
  • Therefore, shifting the attention from a single-minded and linear water management to a multi-dimensional integrated water management approach, that is, the ‘One Water’ approach, for a comprehensive, resilient and sustainable management of water resources.

2. About

  • ‘One Water’ is the recognition that all water has value, regardless of its source. It includes managing that source in an integrated, inclusive and sustainable manner by including the community, business leaders, industries, farmers, conservationists, policymakers, academics and others for ecological and economic benefits.
  • The new water management approach, that also referred to as Integrated water resources management (IWRM). 
  • IWRM is an “integrated planning and implementation approach to managing finite water resources for long-term resilience and reliability meeting both community and ecosystem needs”, according to research organisation Water Research Foundation.
  • “One Water is the future of the water industry when the barriers conventionally separating wastewater, stormwater, drinking water, groundwater and the reuse and re-utilisation are broken down, many benefits realised,” said Robert C Renner, Water Research Foundation.
  • This approach also recognises that all water has value and by considering the potential of every form of water, none of them should be treated as a waste product, according to non-profit United States Water Alliance.

3.Unifying characters of One water approach

  • The mindset that all water has value — from the water resources in our ecosystems to our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater. 
  • A multi-faceted approach meaning that our water-related investments should provide economic, environmental, and societal returns.
  • Utilising watershed-scale thinking and action that respects and responds to the natural ecosystem, geology, and hydrology of an area. 
  • Partnerships and inclusion in recognising that real progress and achievements will only be made when all stakeholders come forward and together will take a decision.

4.Objectives of One Water approach

  • Reliable, secure, clean water supplies 
  • Aquifer recharge
  • Flood protection 
  • Minimizing environmental pollution 
  • Efficient use and reuse of natural resources
  • Resilience to climate 
  • Long-term sustainability
  • Equity, affordability and accessibility to safe drinking water
  • Economic growth and prosperity

 

5.What drives adaptation of One Water Approach

  • Differences in regional water availability, pricing and affordability, the seasonal and inter-annual variation in supply, water quality and quantity, and unreliability of the resource pose great challenges.
  • Aged infrastructure
  • supply-centric management, 
  • polluted water bodies, 
  • agricultural and industrial expansion 
  • following changes in consumption and production patterns, 
  • a changing climate and disproportionate distribution of the water also push for new water techniques. 

6. About and the superiority of  Integrated water resources management

  • IWRM is an “integrated planning and implementation approach to managing finite water resources for long-term resilience and reliability meeting both community and ecosystem needs”.
  • integrated planning and implementation approach to managing finite water resources for long-term resilience and reliability meeting both community and ecosystem needs”
  • “One Water is the future of the water industry when the barriers conventionally separating wastewater, stormwater, drinking water, groundwater and the reuse and re-utilization are broken down, many benefits realized.”
  • IWRM is superior to the conventional water management approach in several ways as follows-
    • In the conventional water management approach, drinking water, wastewater and stormwater are managed separately, whereas in ‘One Water’, All the water systems, regardless of its source, are connected intentionally and managed meticulously for water, energy and resource.
    • Water is recycled and reused several times in IWRM, in contrast to a one-way route from supply to use, treatment and disposal.
    • Stormwater is utilized as a valuable resource to fight against water scarcity, recharge groundwater, and support natural vegetation.
    • The water system includes green infrastructures and a mix of grey and green infrastructure that form a hybrid system as compared to grey infrastructure in conventional water management.
    • The interconnectedness of surface water, groundwater, stormwater and wastewater is collectively recognized and managed by these separate but connected entities.
    • Active collaborations with industry, agencies, policymakers, business leaders and various stakeholders is a regular practice in the ‘One Water’ approach, whereas collaboration is need-based in conventional water management systems.

A case study of Los Angeles

  • One Water Los Angeles has integrated the city of LA’s family of regional agencies, academia, businesses, environmentalists and other stakeholders. It formulated a LA 2040 Plan through a “Three legged stool approach” that ensures water quality improvement, water supply augmentation and flood risk mitigation.
  • It is giving a major urban smart water cycle goal by creating “short-cuts” that enhance recycling and reuse while ensuring multiple benefits.
  • The ‘One Water’ concept is about bringing all the diverse stakeholders together to advance common-ground solutions to combat the water and urban ecology challenges.
  • Every individual, every community, every sector, and every stakeholder group has a role to play in an improved decision-making network, from implementing policies to formulating plans for future developments.

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