'Water-Smart Growth: Integrating water management and land use planning'
Enjie Li (firstname.lastname@example.org), Utah State University Shujuan Li (email@example.com), Utah State University; Joanna Endter-Wada (firstname.lastname@example.org), Utah State University
Water and urban growth are inextricably interconnected, particularly in arid regions. Urban growth and water management have generated multi-dimensional conflicts. Growing cities that seek to quench their continuously increasing thirst with limited available water resources often have adverse impacts on the environment or region from which the water is drawn. Given that land use planning is an effective tool to control and manage urban growth and it has direct influence on urban water management, a holistic land-water planning approach is needed to cope with rapid growth and water scarcity in the arid western United States. However, this land-water planning approach is largely conceptual and its implementation in land use planning practices has yet to be realized. The authors coined the term “water-smart growth” for this integrated land-water planning approach and explored its application in the land use planning process in Cache County, Utah. SLEUTH, a cellular automata model, is adopted to simulate Cache County’s urban growth from 1984 to 2030. Three growth scenarios, conventional (sprawl) growth, compact growth, and “water–smart growth,” are investigated and visualized through urban growth simulations. The conventional scenario represents a current trend development where growth will occur under current land use regulations and management plans, without any further restrictions. The second scenario assumes a managed growth with high density infill development and low rates conversion of greenfield-to-urban. The last scenario, “water-smart growth,” simulates a managed growth with maximum protection on water resources and soil of high infiltration rates. This scenario maximizes the potential to conserve water-related land resources and minimizes the amount of developed land. Through comparing these scenarios and detecting the interactions between growth patterns and water use, water infiltration, and water runoff patterns in the urban environment, this study presents how different locality’s comprehensive plans may contribute to the sustainability of growth, land use, and development in the context of watershed health, maintenance of ecosystem integrity, and water conservation. This study also attempts to draw attention from urban governance, environmental politics, infrastructure engineering, and water management arenas, and to prompt collaborations among these disciplines toward a “water-smart” oriented growth. Discussion and conclusion are approached from different perspectives. From an urban planning standpoint, the “water-smart growth” concept connects an aspect of water sustainability to the current land use planning agenda by facilitating understandings of how land use decisions impact water resources. From a water management standpoint, the urban water environment is a complex and interconnected human and natural system, requiring water managers to take a holistic and systematic approach to examine all aspects of the urban hydrologic cycle, including the interactions between land, water, and the atmosphere, within both the natural and built environments. From a public policy standpoint, since the urban water environment is a system that encompasses hydrology, ecology, culture, land use, design, infrastructure, society, law, and economy, effective “water-smart growth” should incorporate multiple perspectives and varied expertise in an interdisciplinary and collaborative framework.