Planners and Water

PAS Report 588

By William Cesanek, AICP, Vicki Elmer, Jennifer Graeff, AICP

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It's a perfect storm. Growing cities. Aging infrastructure. Changing climate. What was once a trickle of concern has turned into a torrent of worry about water. How can planners shore up the situation in their communities?

Planners and Water rises to the challenge with a fresh approach: One Water. This model sweeps away the old silos of planning for water. Instead, it looks at water supply, water quality, and stormwater as a single resource for planners to manage.

Much of this vital PAS Report draws from the work of APA's Water Task Force. Seven chapters cover current thinking about water cycles and systems. Early material offers a primer on the basics. A deeper dive reveals the ripple effects of local needs and global trends. A section on financing suggests ways to prime the pump for capital projects and innovative systems. Five strategic points of intervention show the best places for planners to jump in and make an impact.

Case studies map out some of the tacks planners are taking today, while best practices add to the pool of solutions. The ideas reflect a smooth confluence of theory and practice from authors William Cesanek, AICP; Vicki Elmer, PhD; and Jennifer Graeff, AICP.

Time and tide wait for no one. Planners and Water gives readers what they need now to chart a course for the future — and stem a tide of water issues that threaten to inundate our communities.


Executive Summary

About the Authors

William Cesanek, AICP, chairs APA's Water Task Force and heads the urban planning practice at global consultancy CDM Smith. There he works closely with cities on projects such as Philadelphia's Green City, Clean Waters program. Cesanek has more than 30 years of experience in infrastructure planning and water resource management. He has taught sustainable infrastructure planning at Rutgers University.

Vicki Elmer, PhD, directed the Oregon Leadership in Sustainability graduate program at the University of Oregon. Earlier, she taught sustainable water and infrastructure policy at the University of California, Berkeley. As a practitioner, she served as Berkeley's planning director and public works director, as well as city manager for Eugene, Oregon. She is coauthor of Infrastructure Planning and Finance.

Jennifer Graeff, AICP, coordinates public engagement at the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Previously, she was associate director of international partnerships at APA. In that role, she managed APA's Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas program, focused on building planning capacity throughout Latin America. Graeff also led APA's Dutch partnership, which provided opportunities to learn about Dutch water management.

Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
Aug. 14, 2017
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Chapter 1. Planning for Water: An Introduction
APA Survey of Planners
About This Report

Chapter 2. One Water
What Is One Water?
Why Is One Water Important to Planners?
How Can Planners Apply One Water in Their Work?

Chapter 3. Water Basics
The Water Cycle
Water Supply

Chapter 4. Water System Challenges and Factors for Change
Emerging Drivers of Change in Water Management
Challenges to Water Management
Additional Impacts of the Changing Context for Water

Chapter 5. Planning for Sustainable Water: Recommended Practices
Water and the Five Strategic Points of Intervention
Water in the Context of Sustaining Places
Recommended Practices
One Water Examples

Chapter 6. The Financial Aspects of Water
The Price and Cost of Water
Pricing and Rate Structures for Water Systems
Capital Improvement Strategies
Funding for Water System Innovation
Water Markets and Water Rights
How Planners Can Get More Involved

Chapter 7. Planning for Water: Thoughts for the Future
Key Questions for the Planning Profession
Partnerships and Conversations
Water Education for Planners
APA’s Water and Planning Network

Appendix A
Recommendations for Improved Comprehensive Plan Guidance for Water Resources Planning

Appendix B
Glossary of Water Terms