The New Braunfels City Council received a presentation on the One Water Initiative, a regional collaboration on water planning and management, during their regular meeting Jan. 23.

One Water is an integrated planning and implementation approach to managing finite water resources for long-term resilience and reliability, meeting the needs of both the community and the local ecosystem.

“The approach, One Water New Braunfels, is a way to manage water resources and their uses together rather than in silos to leverage the outcomes,” said Christopher Looney, planning and development services director for the city of New Braunfels.

In 2019, New Braunfels Utilities partnered with the city of New Braunfels and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority to explore a new approach to water planning and management. The One Water Roadmap for New Braunfels was created—a guiding document to support the three agencies and the community in ensuring that water remains a celebrated and protected feature of New Braunfels.

The One Water Roadmap has been created to align well with the Envision New Braunfels Plan, according to Looney. David Hubbard, chief administrative officer for New Braunfels Utilities, discussed how important water is in New Braunfels and why water management is essential for the community.

“Just like how the city created the Envision New Braunfels plan that establishes a vision and a framework for the future of our city, we have a plan that does the same thing for water,” Hubbard said. “And honestly, very few communities have one of those, and that's where the One Water framework really comes into play.”

Some of the goals highlighted on the roadmap include continuing to be a year-round destination for tourism in Central Texas and emphasizing resource conservation and environmental stewardship in public infrastructure investments. Additionally, One Water would continue to implement conservation initiatives by the Edwards Aquifer Authority and discourage development in the Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zones.

One Water would also attempt to acquire land along the Comal and Guadalupe rivers and their tributaries to preserve assets along the river.

“By working together across agencies and pulling in nonprofits and other community players, we were able to tackle something in a much [bigger] way,” said Sara Richards, director of customer solutions at New Braunfels Utilities. “Drought is a huge challenge, particularly in New Braunfels, this region, the Hill Country, where we have very fragile water resources, very limited supply and staggering growth rates. We really just saw this as an opportunity to pull together with the other agencies that cared about the natural resources to figure out how together you can protect them for the future.”

The vision outlined in the One Water Roadmap is to plan and manage water resources sustainably; maximize environmental, social and economic benefits in the area; and ensure water remains a celebrated feature of the community. Additionally, the plan has the goals to provide high-quality water and ensure healthy watersheds, waterways and groundwater resources.

“[The One Water Roadmap] has recommendations and a plan for how we can move forward with this together,” Richards said. “And where we landed is a vision that's very ambitious but we think true to what the folks in New Braunfels deserve for their children and their children's children, and that's to work to ensure that water remains a celebrated and protected feature of this community by collaboratively managing water resources safeguarding our watershed and our waterways.”

The city of New Braunfels, GBRA and NBU recommend adopting the One Water Roadmap plan and developing an interlocal agreement with one another to begin following the One Water initiative and address water issues collaboratively to achieve benefits for the region. The agencies will also pool funds to advance the One Water initiative in the community.

“In year one of the roadmap, besides creating the foundational membership between GBRA, NBU and the city of New Braunfels, the next step really is to create a One Water program that the city is starting to become aware of and to get that awareness out into the community,” Hubbard said.

More information on the One Water for New Braunfels Roadmap can be found at