Clean water utilities are undergoing a remarkable transformation. They are evolving from wastewater treatment plants to resource recovery facilities. Instead of simply collecting and treating wastewater, forward-thinking utilities are becoming managers of valuable resources, a partner in local economic development, and a provider of environmental benefits to their watershed community.
They are doing this by reclaiming and reusing water, extracting and finding commercial uses for nutrients and other products, capturing waste heat and energy from biosolids and liquids, generating renewable energy, and using green infrastructure to manage stormwater and to improve the quality of life in urban areas. Utilities can benefit from these actions through reduced costs and increased revenues, while also delivering environmental, economic, and social benefits to their local communities and the Nation.
In collaboration with the Water Environment Federation and the Water Environment Research Foundation, NACWA is developing a “Water Resources Utility of the Future … Blueprint for Action” that seeks to characterize the elements of the utility of the future (UOTF) and potential next steps the three organizations can take to further realize the UOTF vision. Each organization has provided expertise through their members who are serving on the UOTF Task Force and provided vital input to the draft blueprint. The document will lay out potential action items in the areas of regulatory and legislative advocacy, research and development, and education and outreach. The blueprint will also provide an in-depth examination of barriers to and incentives for innovation.
This final document, The Water Resources Utility of the Future: A Blueprint for Action, will be the focus of discussions at NACWA’s upcoming 2013 Winter Conference, Tomorrow’s Clean Water Utility … Is the Future Already Here? The blueprint—and presentations at the conference—will explore success stories, identify potential barriers and roadblocks, and discuss the business case for innovation that many utilities will need to make before taking the plunge. Early adopters, who will share their success stories and identify regulatory or economic roadblocks, are helping to pave the way for more widespread adoption of the innovations and practices by other utilities.
These efforts will help position the clean water community for the future. We hope you will join us in Miami and in crafting and implementing this vision for the future.