Integrated water resource management has been discussed since at least the Civil War; yet, there is still no integrated framework for sustainably managing water. Recognizing this need, the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) funded a research project to develop an integrated, conceptual framework for sustainable water resources management. Through WERF funding, this framework was developed over the past four years. Development of the framework was guided by the U.N. Agenda 21, Global Water Partnership, the Enlibra Principles, and Panarchy Theory.
The conceptual framework for Sustainable Water Resources Management considers water as a renewable, but finite resource with global and regional constraints. It integrates ecological, economic, and social considerations through institutional and legal/regulatory constructs to move toward sustainable water resources. Implementation of the framework is guided by a process flow chart that considers both crisis management and proactive management activities. Sustainability is as much an outcome as a goal. If water resources are viewed within a total systems context and monitored, assessed and adaptively managed through time, sustainable water resources are the outcome.