Case-based analysis of regional integration among M&I water providers in the West as a means of improving resiliency in the face of climate change
Across the West, coalitions of municipal and industrial (M&I) water providers have increasingly looked to regional integration of both their physical and institutional systems as a means of dealing with common pressures associated with population growth and climate variability and change. In order to better understand the forces that can stimulate these efforts, the possible forms of the resulting integration, and the overall efficacy of this management strategy, this project reviewed three cases where regional integration is a prominent feature of policy: southern Nevada, California, and the Front Range of Colorado. The cases demonstrate that infrastructural integration and institutional connectedness go hand in hand, and can emerge together, or evolve from either point. Once established, these relationships can be useful in illuminating drawbacks to competition and benefits of cooperative action. In the case study regions, the resiliency of water systems appears to have improved (or the rate of decline has slowed), as evidenced by decreases in per capita demand, increased infrastructure connectivity and efficiency, and increased available resources. Regional integration, however, is not without drawbacks. Breaking the bond between water scarcity and competitive behavior at the regional scale is difficult to do without merely shifting the point of competition to other scales.
WWA White Paper: Regional Integration of M&I Water Providers as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy