National leaders from the public and private sectors make compelling cases on the need for innovative and integrated approaches to managing water and strengthening the resiliency of communities. Ben Grumbles, President of the U.S. Water Alliance writes a guest post about “one water” sustainability.

By: Ben Grumbles, U.S. Water Alliance

Wild weather, polluted storm water, stressed water supplies, and stretched budgets are challenging communities across the country.  The good news:  More leaders are stepping up to integrate and innovate to save and sustain the wealth of their watersheds and neighborhoods. The “bad” news: Their success is still relatively secret and the need for scaling up their brand of “one water” sustainability is positively urgent.

That’s why the U.S. Water Alliance is convening its One Water Leadership Summit in Los Angeles, from September 23-26.  Policy makers, executives, experts, and advocates will gather to share their secrets and challenge their colleagues.  “One Water” is the Alliance’s way of describing the essence of water and its circle of life; how the resource takes many different shapes and serves many different purposes and constituencies along its hydrologic journey, and how we all need to view, value, and manage it with that “oneness,” reusability, and resourcefulness in mind.  It also embraces the need for connectivity to other sectors that shape and become shaped by water, such as energy, agriculture, transportation, housing, and urban planning, all to help serve environmental, economic, and social goals (the “triple bottom line”).  Such integrated management of water is even more important as extreme weather events challenge the resiliency and sustainability of resources and communities.

In Los Angeles, national leaders from the public and private sectors will make compelling cases on the need for innovative and integrated approaches to managing water and strengthening the resiliency of communities.  A.G. Kawamura, former California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, Jeff Sterba, President and CEO of American Water, Kathy Freas, Senior Vice President and Global Water Services Team Leader, CH2M HILL, and Anne Donker, Senior Economic Officer, Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands will share their insights on water’s most pressing challenges and opportunities. Participants will learn about edible landscapes, living architecture, and urban climate adaptation strategies to respond to sea level rise, coastal subsidence, wetland habitat loss, river flooding, wet basements and other threats.

The summit will also feature panel and roundtable discussions on green infrastructure, resource recovery, and the energy/water nexus throughout its four day duration.  Spotlight communities at this year’s Summit include New Orleans, Atlanta, Bend Oregon, and Los Angeles.  In each case, multi-disciplinary teams will describe their community’s approach to sewer overflows, stormwater,  infrastructure improvement, and public acceptance.  Participants in the Summit will also engage with experts on specific “hot topics” such as federal stormwater permitting, water quality trading, asset management and underground infrastructure, hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, and the reuse and recycling of water, wastewater, stormwater, and gray water.

America’s water sector has been learning, sometimes the hard way, that holistic planning and upfront collaboration make sense and save money in the long run for sustainability. Weather extremes, water and energy insecurities, and other emerging challenges underscore the need for one water management.  Please join the effort in a watershed near you.

Ben Grumbles is President of the U.S. Water Alliance. He has served as Director of Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality, Assistant Administrator for Water at U.S. EPA, and in the U.S. House of Representatives on both the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Science Committee. While at EPA, he helped launch their water efficiency program–WaterSense, as well as other initiatives on green infrastructure, water climate change, wetlands, and pharmaceuticals in water. Ben has a Masters Degree in environmental law from George Washington University, a J.D. from Emory University Law School, and a B.A. from Wake Forest University.

The U.S. Water Alliance is an organization dedicated to uniting people and policy for water sustainability. Possessing one of the broadest and most diverse memberships in the country, the Alliance has public and private sector leaders focusing on quality and quantity water issues both above and below the surface. The Alliance also focuses on the connections of energy, land, food and transportation as they relate to water, and the need for an integrated “one water” management philosophy. Mr. Grumbles has an extensive career in water and environmental policy.