The Comal County Conservation Alliance is excited to host a Community Program at the McKenna Events Center on Tuesday, April 16th at 6:00 pm. Robin Gary, the NBU One Water Coordinator, will guide the audience through the principles of One Water, emphasizing the value of all water types — from stormwater to drinking water — and the importance of maximizing water resources through reuse.

One Water is defined by the Water Research Foundation (WRF) as an integrated planning and implementation approach to managing finite water resources for long-term resilience and reliability, meeting both community and ecosystem needs. The term “One Water” is emerging in the United States to denote what is commonly understood as integrated urban water management. With the rapid population expansion and constrained water reservoirs in Central Texas, the adoption of One Water principles is increasingly recognized as a practical strategy to prolong and safeguard water reserves.

Dr. Larry Sunn of Rain Bees lovingly refers to One Water as “Toilet to Tap,” and explained to a captivated Bulverde/Spring Branch Chamber of Commerce audience last month that One Water originated in Wichita Falls as a response to a feeling of water scarcity and has since become a guiding philosophy in 11 cities, with New Braunfels next in line to embrace this innovative approach.

In New Braunfels, Texas, water isn’t merely a resource; it’s the essence of community life. From the iconic springs to bustling attractions like Schlitterbahn Water Park, water shapes the city’s identity. Recognizing this, New Braunfels Utilities (NBU), the City of New Braunfels, and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) have united under One Water New Braunfels, a collaborative initiative aimed at holistic water management.

Launched in August 2023, One Water New Braunfels marks a departure from traditional siloed approaches to water management. Historically, different agencies managed various aspects of water independently, leading to fragmented efforts. One Water New Braunfels acknowledges that water knows no bounds; it’s all one water, interconnected and essential to every aspect of life. By breaking down barriers between agencies, the initiative seeks to ensure water remains a cherished and protected asset for generations to come.

At the core of One Water New Braunfels is partnership. A newly formed One Water Advisory Committee, comprising representatives from NBU, the city, and GBRA, will provide strategic guidance and oversee the program’s implementation. This collaborative model streamlines decision-making, preventing bureaucratic gridlock, and ensuring efficient progress toward shared goals.

The program’s roadmap outlines five action areas, each with specific objectives and strategies. From holistic water resource planning to maximizing environmental, social, and economic benefits, the roadmap provides a comprehensive framework for sustainable water management. By focusing on sustainable practices and community engagement, One Water New Braunfels aims to secure a resilient water supply while preserving the city’s unique character and vitality.

But New Braunfels isn’t alone in its pursuit of integrated water management. Across the country, communities are embracing the One Water approach, recognizing its potential to address pressing water challenges. From Los Angeles to southeastern Virginia, utilities are implementing innovative strategies to maximize water resources and enhance resilience in the face of climate change.

One Water isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a paradigm shift in how we approach water management. By treating all water as valuable and interconnected, communities can unlock economic, social, and environmental benefits while safeguarding water for future generations. Through collaboration, strategic planning, and community engagement, the One Water approach offers a path toward a more sustainable and resilient water future.

However, transitioning to a One Water approach isn’t without its challenges. In California, declining wastewater flows and funding constraints pose significant obstacles to water recycling projects. Yet, despite these challenges, utilities are finding creative solutions and leveraging new sources of funding to advance One Water initiatives.

Equity is also a central consideration in One Water planning. Communities must ensure that all residents have access to safe, affordable water and participate in decision-making processes. By prioritizing equity and inclusivity, One Water programs can address historical disparities and build a more just and resilient water system.

As communities confront growing water challenges, the need for holistic, collaborative approaches has never been greater. Through initiatives like One Water New Braunfels, cities can harness the power of partnership to secure a sustainable water future for all. By embracing innovation, equity, and resilience, we can ensure that water remains a source of life, vitality, and prosperity for generations to come.

We hope that you’ll join us on Tuesday, 4/16 to learn more!

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About the Author: Kaitie Moore Underwood

Kaitie Moore Underwood
Kaitie Moore Underwood's roots in competitive rodeo in Texas intertwined with her academic pursuits at the University of Houston, where she met her husband, Hank. Their move to the Hill Country in 2021 marked the beginning of both their family and Kaitie's successful career in real estate, assisting 18 families in her first year. With a background in the hospitality industry, recognized for her service excellence by the Starwood Hotel Sales Organization, Kaitie has honed her skills in financial analysis, strategy, and marketing. Now, as a pivotal member of the Blue Collar Commercial Group, she continues her professional ascent, consistently exceeding expectations through her dedication to relationships and solutions.

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