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Integrated Water Management

A Guide for City Leaders

June 15, 2016

Mel Meder and Satya Rhodes-Conway

Full report


Water management isn’t just for utility leaders anymore – all city leaders must prioritize effective and equitable water management as part of creating a livable, thriving city. Urban water systems are facing new threats from climate change in addition to perennial concerns over water quality and supply.


These challenges are systemic and demand a new approach, requiring political leaders to join in working to create more resilient water systems. Integrated water management (IWM) offers a framework for managing all water within cities as a resource, reducing waste while capturing value, and seeking to integrate water into other city planning. The benefits of IWM can extend well beyond better resource management, from economic development opportunities and creative funding to improved recreational areas.


This report provides an overview of the potential for IWM in cities from the big-picture framework down to examples of tools used by cities on the ground. IWM includes tools like protection of natural lands near waterways, conservation, capture of rain as a resource, an end to “waste” water, and planning for climate resilience.