2. Planning for Water and Watersheds
“A new relationship between people and water needs to be established to ensure that there will be water supplies for human use, thriving ecosystems and a healthy economy.... both now and in the future.”
Every living organism, ecosystem and community requires water for life, health and functioning. The water cycle also influences the availability of many natural resources for communities and the exposure of those communities to water-related hazards. Biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and most sectors of the economy are highly dependent on water resources and watershed health.
A watershed refers to a region or area of land that drains into a stream, river system or other body of water. Watersheds capture precipitation, filter and store water, and influence the timing and volume of water flows. They are integrated systems, with actions in one part of a watershed often impacting other parts of the watershed; therefore, the watershed is an important unit for planning for and managing water. Watershed planning and management seeks to ensure the wise and effective use of water and land resources, and in particular, the quantity, quality and timing of water flows.
Communities rely on water and watersheds for a safe, secure and adequate supply of water for many uses; a receiving environment for wastewater discharges; provision of fish, wildlife, habitat and biodiversity; moderation of flooding, erosion and sedimentation processes; and a host of other social, cultural, economic and spiritual values. Communities and watersheds are experiencing unprecedented changes at many different scales related to population growth, settlement patterns, use of natural resources, release of waste products into the environment and a changing climate. These changes can lead to impacts on water resources, watershed health and community sustainability.
Water and watershed planning is about defining and achieving a desired future vision for water resources and watersheds. Planning plays a critical role in how communities define their vision of the future and their path to achieve this vision
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PLANNING FOR WATER AND WATERSHEDS