Watersheds are complex systems and are best managed with an approach that considers the interconnectedness of watershed resources. Human activities including water withdrawals and the management of stormwater and wastewater can cause substantial transfers of water within, between, and out of watersheds. These and other water movements must be considered together, on a watershed scale, in the context of the natural water cycle for the combined needs of area residents and ecological communities to be sustainably met. This concept of Integrated Watershed Management should be the goal going forward; otherwise communities are likely to find themselves without reliable, clean supplies of water to support drinking, agriculture, industry, recreation, and wildlife.
Currently, jurisdiction is highly fragmented and water management does not resemble this vision of cohesive, pragmatic process. Municipal governments actively manage water in a variety of ways (such as water withdrawals, stormwater, wastewater, land use restrictions) and in many cases, consider these issues separately. Even where municipalities take a more integrated approach, their control is limited by the fact that most watersheds (including those in the PIE-r-squared region) span many communities.
The framework of State and Federal regulation and oversight of water management issues is complex and disjointed with a host of agencies involved, each of which has unique authorities and operates under different mandates.
Consequences of Disjointed Water Management
The sum total of these factors is a water management system that, as a whole, does not take a systematic, integrated approach to allocating, managing and using water resources. As a result, portions of the PIE-Rivers region have streams that are severely flow depleted, owing to a combination of issues including; over-allocation, out of basin transfers, stormwater management and insufficient efficiency measures. These issues affect availability of adequate water to support some of the important native ecological communities in the region. This also has implications for the long term supply of water for human needs in communities at draw water from the PIE-Rivers watersheds.