This past month, fifteen national experts in integrated water management from across the U.S. and Canada convened at the Pisces Foundation headquarters in San Francisco to lay out a vision for using integrated water management to face the water resource challenges of the 21st century. They came from varied disciplines and backgrounds, public and private sectors, nonprofits, and academia. Many were not just theoreticians, but IWM practitioners who built zero water and energy footprint buildings, designed and constructed developments that would regenerate ecosystems, restored native bivalves to filter pollution from degraded coastal waters, utilized biomimicry and traditional knowledge to restore streams degraded by deforestation and polluted agricultural runoff.
While these experts have seen IWM work in practice, we discussed not only the promise, but pitfalls of IWM, especially when ensuring that the benefits of IWM are equitably shared. Valerie Nelson, director of the Water Alliance, led this effort as she has many similar efforts over the years to re-envision infrastructure for the benefit of people and the ecosystems in which we live. Our conceptual framework, which we are calling The San Francisco Charter, will be refined over the next weeks and months and then shared widely. The Charter could then be adapted and adopted to meet the needs of communities hoping to better define and work towards a clean, plentiful and just water future.