Bearing in mind the One Water approach – that all water, no matter the type, is valuable and should be managed sustainably and in an integrated way – metropolitan Atlanta has approved an integrated water resource management plan designed to meet the water and wastewater demands for the entire region through 2050, taking into account existing watershed conditions.
The plan, completed by CH2M, highlights the connections between water supply and conservation, wastewater management and stormwater and watershed management across 15 counties and 95 cities in the metropolitan Atlanta area. It provides specific actions that each of the counties and cities in the Metro District must implement to help meet goals for sustainable water resource management through 2050.
The final integrated water resource management plan received unanimous approval by the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Board.
Previously, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District prepared separate plans for water supply, wastewater and watershed management which are now included in the updated single, integrated document. The integrated plan is based on a set of regional policy goals such as:
- Maximize the use of existing facilities and enhance reliability of wastewater pumping stations.
- Increase water conservation and efficiency and ensure consistency with existing regulatory programs.
- Use of best management for non-potable reuse and make appropriate use of reclaimed water.
- Promote maintenance of decentralized wastewater systems.
- Reduce wastewater treatment facility influent variability.
- Consider return flows to support downstream uses and continue to protect water quality.
- Support adoption of advanced treatment technologies.
- Promote green infrastructure.
Today’s water challenges are complex. The health of our waterways and water sources are influenced by many actors including agriculture and industry: while many regions across the country face water-related challenges, the external factors at play are nuanced and different based on local circumstances. Some areas are water-rich but face massive nutrient runoff issues; others have seen years of perpetual drought with no end in sight.
And traditional approaches to water in terms of how water systems are designed, built, and operated are insufficient to meet 21st century challenges, points out the US Water Alliance. Regulatory, financial, and governance structures have put water into separately managed silos for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater. These stovepipes have been reinforced at every level of government—from the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act at the federal level, to how water rights and regulations are managed at the state level, to the fragmented nature of how local utilities and city agencies are organized. Complicating it all is the fact that much of our water infrastructure was built more than 100 years ago and is in dire need of investment.
The One Water movement is based on the belief that all water – drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and everything in between – has value, and should be managed in a sustainable, inclusive, integrated manner that leads to thriving local economies, vibrant communities, and healthy ecosystems, the US Water Alliance says.
The Alliance has put together a “roadmap” as a guide for how the country tackles its “most pressing water challenges.”