This unique examination of the countries of the Americas, each with different water resources characteristics, diverse levels of economic and social development, varying problems related to water quality and quantity and different experiences with water management, reveals that there are a number overarching themes that are universally pertinent in spite of the social, economic, physical and hydrologic diversity of the hemisphere. These themes are three in number.
1. Evidence from virtually every country shows that if water management is to be effective it must extend beyond urban boundaries and include the entire watershed(s) upon which the urban area depends for its water supplies.
2. Groundwater can be just as important as surface water and this means that the interactions between ground and surface water, the hydrologic connections, must be specifically addressed in water management plans. In addition, it should be recognized that contamination of ground water is almost always cheaper to prevent than to clean up after it has occurred.
3. Urban areas are especially vulnerable to extreme climatic events. Changing climate and its consequences should be addressed in water management plans and planned responses should be both flexible and adaptive.
The discussions found herein summarize the more detailed country-by-country presentations contained in a much larger volume entitled Urban Water Challenges in the Americas, A Perspective from the Academies of Sciences, and published by the Interamerican Network of
Academies of Science (2016).
This publication was supported by IAP.