At the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) we like to say that NACWA is each utility individually. . .realizing the power of many. . .by speaking with one voice. . .to ensure affordable solutions with the greatest environmental benefit. In other words, NACWA represents the power of association. One recent example of this unique and compelling power can be found in the collaboration between NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) focused on The Water Resources Utility of the Future.
Recently, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) recognized NACWA with a Power of A Gold Award for this significant collaboration citing its transformation of how clean water agencies contribute to local communities and economies. Specifically, ASAE honored NACWA for creating a better future by better management of natural resources, partnering in local economic development activities, and delivering maximum environmental benefits at the lowest cost to society.
Today’s wastewater management agencies (more appropriately known as clean water agencies) are transforming their relationships with their communities and their contributions to local economies. To acknowledge and inspire this paradigm shift, NACWA, WEF and WERF embarked on an exploration of The Water Resources Utility of the Future to both capture the industry’s vision and lay out a blueprint for a series of critical actions that will help deliver this vision.
Instead of solely collecting, transporting and treating wastewater, The Water Resources Utility of the Future transforms itself into a manager of valuable resources, a partner in local economic development, and a member of the watershed community seeking to deliver maximum environmental benefits at the least cost to society. It does this by reclaiming and reusing water, extracting and finding commercial uses for nutrients and other constituents, capturing waste heat and latent energy in biosolids and liquid streams, generating renewable energy, and using green infrastructure not only to manage stormwater but also to improve urban quality of life. These social benefits actions benefit the utility in the form of reduced costs and increased revenues, and deliver environmental, economic, and both locally and nationally.
NACWA and its partners, WEF and WERF, created a series of critical actions – including a Blueprint for Action – to help deliver this vision. The Blueprint, released in January, 2013, has been followed by publications, conferences, white papers, and associated initiatives – as well as the creation of a bipartisan Congressional Clean Water Caucus. Paul Pomerantz, chair of the Power of A Awards Judging Committee and CEO of the American Society of Anesthesiologists congratulated NACWA “. . .for benefitting not just their own industry or profession, but society at large,” and noted that the collective Water Resources Utility of the Future initiative captures the entire industry’s vision and lays out critical actions that must take place to minimize waste, maximize resources, protect ratepayers and improve the community.
With this solid foundation established, each of the organizations continues to carry forward this message and tenants to their communities – in a clear demonstration of the power of association to enrich lives, create a competitive workforce, prepare society for the future, drive innovation and make a better world.