The One Water Planning Process Can Save Money While Improving Water Quality: A New RiverStewards White Paper Shows How

What is One Water?

The One Water concept was developed by the Water Research Foundation – a nonprofit, educational organization that funds, manages, and publishes research on the technology, operation, and management of drinking water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater systems – to “manage water resources holistically and sustainably. One Water 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 water management breaks down the traditional silos of drinking water, stormwater, and waste water and comes up with solutions to manage all water as one system”, said Mark Gutshall, founder of RiverStewards. “Ultimately this saves a municipality or water utility time and money, which can then reduce costs for ratepayers while also improving environmental water quality. The One Water planning process is win-win for all, and that’s why RiverStewards is getting the word out about it.”

While better known in the western United States, the One Water concept is slowly taking off in communities back east that want to save money while protecting and improving water quality and quantity. The Spring Creek Watershed surrounding State College, PA is one such community, where the threat from a potential water bottling company moving into the watershed made stakeholders realize that more needed to be done to protect and manage their water resources.

How RiverStewards Got Involved

In 2018, RiverStewards was in discussion with the University Area Joint Authority (UAJA), the municipal authority providing wastewater treatment to much of State College and the Centre County region, about the One Water concept and how the Centre County region could be used as a pilot for the process in Pennsylvania. UAJA was onboard and the time seemed right… RiverStewards applied for and was awarded a grant from The Chesapeake Bay Trust later that year to document how entities in the Spring Creek Watershed in Centre County could work through the One Water planning process to achieve better and more holistic water management.

Between June 2018 and March 2019, RiverStewards attended various workgroup and public meetings being held as part of the watershed’s One Water planning process to document the process the Spring Creek Watershed Commission and their facilitator used to engage and bring stakeholders to the table, uncover the water-related issues that they face, determine ways to manage all water as one, and implement next steps to protect their watershed.

In early May, this process was documented in a how-to white paper and posted to the RiverStewards website, as well as shared with various organizations representing municipalities and water utilities in Pennsylvania, with the hope that others will follow the model the Spring Creek Watershed partners used to begin the One Water planning process in for their communities.

What’s Next for One Water in Pennsylvania?

RiverStewards will continue to distribute copies of the white paper and outreach to interested organizations through workshops, bus tours, webinars, and other means through the fall of 2019, if not longer, and make themselves available to those who would like to initiate a One Water planning process of their own.

“We envision a future where more and more Pennsylvania communities look at water as a valuable resource, not something to just treat and then send downstream,” said Jessica Aiello, executive director of RiverStewards. “By incorporating some or all of the One Water concepts in their water management practices, Pennsylvania’s water quality will be improved, ultimately helping us meet our Chesapeake Bay requirements in a timelier manner.”

If you work for a Pennsylvania municipality or water utility and are interested in learning more about how to bring integrated water management to your constituents through the One Water method and how RiverStewards can assist you with the planning process, please fill out the contact form at the bottom of the RiverStewards website.

To download and read the full white paper, look under the Initiatives section of our website.

About Jessica Sprajcar Aiello

Jessica S. Aiello is the part-time executive director of RiverStewards Collaborative, working to advance the organization and the work of its partners. She is also a freelance writer/editor specializing in conservation and sustainability topics. She has done work for The Patriot News, Central Pennsylvania Business Journal, and LandStudies, among others. Her online portfolio can be viewed at https://jaielloportfolio.wordpress.com.

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