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Last edited 10 Nov 2021
Water management is a broad term that generally refers to the control and movement of water resources in a manner designed to reduce damage to life and property and to increase beneficial use based on efficient practices.
Related terms include:
Integrated Water Management (IWM) - a more specific, collaborative form of water management defined as managing land and water that delivers coordinated management of water storage, supply, demand, wastewater, flood risk, water quality and the wider environment.
Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) - an evolving methodology developed to improve the management of water resources based on four key principles (sustainability, equity principle, participatory, economic) referred to as the Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development, also known as the Dublin Principles. IWRM involves decision making about the development and management of water, land and related resources to maximise the resultant economic and social welfare fairly, without damaging the sustainability of ecosystems.
 Approaches to water management
There are several different ways to categorise water management techniques. Generally, it can be looked at as conservation approaches, allocation activities, retrofit programmes and behavioural practices.
Another approach, from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, stresses drainage, irrigation, hydrology (and hydraulics) and stream restoration. Its summarised policy states: "Good water management of dams and levees reduces the risk of harm due to flooding. Irrigation water management systems make the most efficient use of limited water supplies for agriculture. Drainage management involves water budgeting and analysis of surface and sub-surface drainage systems. Sometimes water management involves changing practices, such as groundwater withdrawal rates, or allocation of water to different purposes."
 Water management techniques
Water management techniques include:
Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is a water management technique for collecting surface water and storing it (or injecting it) underground - often in an aquifer or well - during a wet period. It can then be recovered (or extracted) when needed, usually during dry periods.
 Conjunctive use
This is a term used to describe the combination of surface water and groundwater for water management purposes. By connecting their sources, a water company can overdraw sources that are not in a critical condition at any one time, e.g. using river abstractions in winter and spring and saving reservoir storage and groundwater for use in summer. This practice can be used at several different levels (such as the direct practice of managing water for a farm or the broader, more strategic practice of managing a larger irrigation system).
Non-potable water can be made potable by processes such as desalination. This process removes minerals from saltwater and makes it suitable for drinking or other uses that require freshwater. The process can be beneficial as a source of water that is not dependent on rainfall.
 Drip irrigation
This is a form of trickle irrigation that uses the controlled delivery of water directly to plant roots above or below the surface of the soil through a network of tubes or pipes. It is a more efficient form of irrigation, since the water goes directly to where it is needed.
This term describes used water that has been collected and treated so it can be used for purposes - such as toilet flushing and garden watering - that do not require drinking water quality, This greatly reduces the demand on mains water as well as reducing the volume of water discharged into sewage systems. For more information see: Greywater.
This approach involves using manmade techniques to pump natural groundwater to a storage point where it can be recharged with rainwater. This technique is frequently associated with aquifer recharging.
 Rainwater harvesting (RWH)
The process of collecting and storing rainwater that falls on catchment surfaces (typically a roof, although almost any external surface could be suitable) for use, independent from, or supplemental to the mains water supply. For more information see: Rainwater harvesting.
Sewerage (the sewer system), is the underground network of pipes that carries sewage (waste water and excrement), waste water and surface water run-off, from buildings to treatment facilities or disposal points. Contaminants are removed from municipal waste water and then the water is treated so it can be returned to the water system. For more information see: Sewage.
- Global smart water management.
- Greywater recycling.
- Groundwater control in urban areas.
- Hosepipe ban.
- Integrated water management.
- Passive dewatering.
- Rainwater harvesting.
- Sustainable water management.
- The Dublin Statement.
- Trading systems for water resources.
- Water abstraction licence.
- Water derogation.
- Water engineering.
- Water impoundment licence.
- Water management act.
- Water management strategies.
- Water meter.
- Water transfers and interconnections.
- Water treatment.
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