Since the passage of the Clean Water Act over forty years ago, clean water agencies have undergone a remarkable transformation, actively contributing to local economies, spurring job growth, advancing cutting edge technologies, and improving the environment and public health. Now, public water and wastewater utilities are stepping up to communicate these triple bottom line benefits to the ratepayer and play a larger public role at the local, regional and national level. In short, these utilities are becoming the Utility of the Future.
It is a very exciting time for the sector. Clean water agencies are responding to the impacts of climate change; partnering with the agricultural industry to improve nutrient management; moving above ground with green infrastructure techniques to manage stormwater where appropriate; embarking on creative outreach and partnerships to keep non-flushable products out of the sewer systems; implementing innovative financing approaches to meet regulatory requirements and reduce the burden on ratepayers; and developing cutting-edge technologies to minimze energy consumption and increase energy production.
To achieve the objectives of becoming Utilities of the Future, clean water groups from across the country are collaborating to achieve shared advocacy goals and communicate priorities to policymakers and the public. Exemplifying this trend, a broad array of municipal, state and regional water and wastewater groups from across the country have joined forces for Water Week 2014. Organized by NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), hundreds of water and wastewater professionals are participating in Water Week with collaborating national organizations, such as the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and the U.S. Water Alliance, and over 25 other state and regional water organizations from across the country.
NACWA is excited by the opportunities that this collaboration and increasing prominence in the public eye present going forward and Water Week 2014 is just the beginning!