It is an honor to announce that Waverly Klaw, our Growing Water Smart program director received the 2020 Western Planner Sheldon D. Gerber Merit Award for Excellence in Environmental Planning for her achievements in environmental planning. The award was announced in June 2021 and is named after a Western Planning Resources, Inc. board member who urged his colleagues to “go the extra distance to accomplish well what it is you set out to do and take time to smell the roses.”
Waverly Klaw, AICP, demonstrates diligence, creativity, and a strong commitment to ethical planning. Throughout her career as a planner in the nonprofit and public sector, Waverly has worked closely with local governments and civic organizations in the West to increase the resilience of the built and natural environment to the impacts of climate change.
Waverly has worked closely with local governments and civic organizations in the West to increase the resilience of the built and natural environment to the impacts of climate change.
Before joining Sonoran Institute, she was a hazards and land use planner with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Community Development Office where she helped increase the role of environmental planning and contributed substantially to planning for natural hazards. Waverly spearheaded the state’s award-winning Planning for Hazards: Land Use Solutions guide and interactive website to help cities and towns reduce their risk to natural hazards through proactive planning. She played a significant role in helping communities devastated by the historic 2013 floods in Colorado recover and build back better, especially dedicating time to advise and support the towns of Jamestown, Lyons Milliken and Manitou Springs. She also helped shape the development of an innovative, first-of-its-kind watershed-based disaster recovery grant program funded by HUD.
As a leader with Sonoran Institute since 2019, Waverly has advanced of the Growing Water Smart training and assistance program for local governments. Growing Water Smart offers solutions for looming water shortages by integrating water resources management into local land use policies and planning processes. Communities that have participated in our workshops go on to integrate water savings measures into their land use codes, update their comprehensive plans to address water, and establish water conservation programs, which increase the water resiliency in their jurisdiction. These actions directly benefit local residents who can be assured that their municipality is proactive and can effectively manage water demand for a secure water future.
These actions directly benefit local residents who can be assured that their municipality is proactive and can effectively manage water demand for a secure water future.
In five years, Waverly’s program has trained jurisdictions representing almost 65% of the population in Colorado, nearly meeting the State of Colorado’s Water Plan objective (which is to have 75% of Coloradans living in a community that has incorporated water-saving actions into land-use planning by 2025.) Progress shows no sign of slowing; the program has also reached leaders representing 21% of Arizonans and will be expanding the program into California, and the benefits seen at the state-level ripple outward to increase the resilience of the Colorado River Basin.
Waverly’s work enhances collaboration among local government staff and shares best practices. Waverly helped shepherd the development of a suite of integrated land use planning metrics used by communities to track their progress toward and impact of integrating land use and water. Armed with these improved relationships and information, communities across the West have the tools to navigate and measure their decisions’ effectiveness over time, becoming better stewards of their natural resources. We’re proud to have her on our team because like Western Planner’s award video says, “Waverly’s daily diligence and long-term commitment to serve communities in the West is remarkable. Waverly’s dedication, commitment to quality, and drive make the success of these environmental planning efforts possible.”
Blog post by Amanda Smith, program manager of Resilient Communities and Watersheds