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The looming capital investment required to refurbish aging infrastructure, upsizing and upgrading existing infrastructure, as well as building new infrastructure to meet growing demands through urbanization and densification is putting financial strain on utilities and local government institutions. This together with the impending impact of climate change and increased resource insecurity and variability will mean that planners and decision makers will need to adopt a new way of thinking and pooling resources. Customers are also demanding a whole society approach where water sensitive urban design and sustainable urban water management addresses all the needs of the urban landscape. A One Water approach is expected to bring together all these water streams through workable institutional arrangements and management.

However, urban water planners and policy makers around the world are wrestling with the challenge of transitioning to a One Water approach, or as defined in the report as the One Water paradigm. Foremost of these is the inertia associated with the dominant paradigm of centralized systems and siloed institutions. This dominant paradigm results in the lack of engineering and community understanding of the benefits of integrated systems, such as lower costs, higher resilience to extreme events, more localized availability of water for reuse, etc. A further significant challenge is the complex structure of regulations that currently exist separately for water supply, wastewater and stormwater management.

This report outlines the challenges that have been faced to date, and suggests enabling strategies and actions that could be deployed at both the implementation and policy levels. These are illustrated through a range of case studies and supported by a review of published literature.

To support planners and policy makers, a Framework for Transitioning to a One Water approach is presented which organizes the range of enabling actions required to make the transition against the corresponding challenges, and the project management phase at which the organization finds itself.

Also available as part of your Water Inteligence Online subscription

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