Sustainable water management means using water in a way that meets current economic, ecological, and quality of life needs without compromising the ability to meet those needs in the future. It requires water managers to look beyond jurisdictional boundaries and their immediate supply operations, managing water collaboratively while seeking resilient regional solutions that minimize risks.
The SWM Profile assesses how a water supply agency is performing by examining the water supplies it directly or indirectly relies upon. Using simple metrics, the SWM Profile identifies the vulnerability of water systems to key stressors (also known as risks or threats) in the areas of environment, supply, demand, and finance. The SWM Profile evaluates management responses to these stressors by the water agency and the broader region. Utilizing an objective points-based system, the SWM Profile determines where an agency and its larger region currently stand on the path to sustainability. The water supply agency and its region are assigned one of five ratings based on points earned for management responses to stressors. Ratings include: not rated, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
Users of this information likely will include public utilities, residential and business customers, land use planning agencies, financial analysts, and state and federal agencies. Each of these stakeholders plays an important role ensuring sound water management, and the SWM Profile seeks to incentivize these stakeholders to work together to sustainably manage the waters of a region.
SWM Profile History
In 2012, the Water Foundation set out to create a tool to measure both water stress conditions on the ground as well as progress towards sustainable water management. The Water Foundation formed a team of experts to develop the tool and convened an advisory committee to provide feedback along the way. In July 2014 a pilot project was launched with Sonoma County Water Agency to develop and test the SWM Profile. After the pilot’s conclusion in January 2015, the Water Foundation conducted an outreach effort to engage a wide variety of stakeholders, including representatives from water agencies, the business and financial sector, state and federal government, NGOs, and academia, to get feedback on the SWM Profile.
Inland Empire Utilities Agency Pilot
After modifying the SWM Profile based on feedback from the pilot test and outreach effort, the Water Foundation implemented a pilot with Inland Empire Utilities Agency in Southern California in 2016. The materials from the IEUA pilot are available below.