We are fortunate to live and work in the TJCOG region, one of vibrant growth and opportunity. Our municipalities and counties are dynamic and continuously developing, and our member governments are constantly working to make our communities the best they can be. However, as rural and urban communities evolve, livability and prosperity will be threatened unless water needs are fully integrated into planning and design. Water management leaders will need to move toward increasingly concerted, integrated and innovative approaches to tackle challenges associated with growing populations.
The Jordan Lake watershed is a massive regional resource utilized by 10 counties, 27 municipalities and nearly 700,000 water customers (see Figure below), and is continuing to be more populous every day. As challenges with water quality and water supply increase from growing populations, it is imperative that water resources dialogue span across jurisdictional bounds. This type of cooperation is intuitive and simple in concept but can be very challenging and complex in implementation. A new type of collaboration is needed to create positive water quality changes within each of our member communities and for the region as a whole.
Jordan Lake One Water Association (JLOWA) is this new collaborative solution. Administered by TJCOG and supported by diverse stakeholders from Greensboro to Raleigh, JLOWA’s goal is to facilitate cooperation and holistic resource management in the Jordan Lake watershed. The Association is comprised of local governments, conservation groups, universities, water utilities, agriculture, and private industry stakeholders interested in sharing the cost of water quality and quantity improvements in order to realize watershed-wide social, economic, and environmental benefits. The water resources community has anticipated the formation of such a group for many years, and TJCOG is uniquely situated to be at the helm during this period of renewed interest. Many of our member governments are located in the Jordan Lake watershed, are directly impacted by these proceedings, and will find tremendous value in belonging to this group; additionally, many other member governments outside of the immediate Jordan Lake watershed are affected through interconnections, water supply allocations, and ongoing policy changes. As integrated water management moves to a more regional and even state-wide scale, our member governments will be kept aware of developments, learn from nearby challenges, and be ‘ahead of the curve’ for future water resources planning.
In the coming months, the JLOWA group will focus on determining the mission, objectives, and structure of the group. Meetings will advance conversations around integrated water management, legislative initiatives, and the future of our watersheds with the goal of initiating more integrated and innovative approaches to tackle water issues associated with the population growth in the Jordan Lake Watershed. One such approach that may be pursued by the Association is the Water Fund, outlined in the Figure below.
Ongoing participation, input, and leadership from our member governments will be invaluable to the success of the Jordan Lake One Water Association. We are currently engaging with elected officials from across the watershed to serve as champions for their jurisdictions through their pledged representation and delegation. We hope you will also consider lending your support to the group as we move forward!
Jen Schmitz is a Principal Planner for the TJCOG Water Resources Program, focusing on water quality, water supply, and long-term regional water availability projects. She is also the main contact for JLOWA stakeholders. Contact her at email@example.com or 919.558.9342.
For more information on the JLOWA efforts, please visit http://www.tjcog.org/jordan-lake-one-water.aspx.