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Why a Water Soft Path, Why Now and What Then?

Date Published: 2011

Full Reference:

Brooks, D.B., and O.M. Brandes, 2011. "Why a Water Soft Path, Why Now and What Then?" International Journal of Water Resources Development 27(2), 315–344.


The best way to achieve a sustainable future for fresh water is to develop decision-making processes, institutions, and technologies that emphasize both efficiency and conservation. These two terms are commonly treated as synonyms, but, respectively, they reflect anthropogenic and ecological bases for making decisions. Recognizing that both perspectives are valid, this article outlines a new approach to water planning and management called the water soft path. This approach differs fundamentally from conventional, supply-based approaches. The article reviews the transfer of the original soft path concept from energy to water, and summarizes the first applications of water soft path analytics to specific geographic areas: one urban area, one province, and one watershed in Canada. The article concludes with suggestions for further research, as well as steps to improve recognition of the water soft path as a planning tool that can move management and policies towards economic, ecological, and social sustainability.

Page last updated: 01/14/2013