"Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights" declared the UN in July 2010.
More than just a human right, it's essential for all life, and deserves our care and attention.
As communities, we control how we use our water.
Architects and civil engineers are trained to treat water as the enemy, whisking it down and away as fast as possible, because uncontrolled water can lead to mould, leaks, flooded streets and other things that lead to lawsuits.
Designing this way makes sense from a purely mechanical perspective, but that's not a holistic approach to water use. It's not the enemy.
Communities can benefit from responsible water management. People like being near water, and real estate values in those areas tend to be higher.
Nature does a great job of filtering water, as long as we take care of the riparian areas and watersheds that feed our creeks, streams and rivers.
Fortunately, those areas near water tend to be prime recreation areas, which makes them easier to protect.
Stormwater management can play into these creeks and streams. Handling big downpours with soft surfaces like grass and ditches, rather than concrete and storm sewers, is a great way of slowing and filtering the water. This puts the water into the soil where it can be used for plants and recharge the water table.
Houses can take advantage of the water that comes off their roofs by either storing it in a rain barrel for use in the yard, or even UV treating it for potable use within the home (in places without a municipal water supply).
Gardens can also benefit from a trail and swale system. Fill a small ditch with a filter cloth and big rocks. Make it level, with an overflow somewhere where it makes sense, then fill it with gravel as a trail. When it rains, run the water into this ditch, which will accept lots of water, then slowly allow it to seep into the ground, feeding the nearby plants from below, encouraging strong root growth.
The lighter our demand on water the more is retained for use within the environment, keeping the environment healthy helps it keep providing those ecological services we need.