To have a truly prosperous state, we must also ensure a healthy environment. In many cases economic development depends on environmental conservation. I am particularly concerned about protection of our water resources. No one wants to live near polluted streams or with the threat of flash flooding. Wise development includes generous stream buffers, greenways and conservation areas that moderate and cleanse water flows.

We can balance social, environmental, and economic goals by being thoughtful about how we seek growth and development. Every day we are seeing advances in sustainable development that protects our communities from environmental degradation. Part of that is having goals for watershed protection and sticking to those goals by finding development partners who respect the environment and have track records to indicate such. It also means holding those development partners accountable. This complementary approach requires a regional vision rather than piecemeal decision making. If this is done right then our children and future generations will have both clean water and a prosperous community.

The coming years will bring the threat of water shortages and massive costs associated with cleaning up our reservoirs, rivers and streams in order to ensure drinkable water. These are the unintended negative consequences of lax accountability standards and a lack of regional governance that properly balances economic and environmental needs.