The Shutdown, Clean Water Agencies and the Need for Collaboration

govt-shutdownThe shutdown of the federal government got a lot more attention inside the beltway than it did in other cities and towns across our expansive country.  In D.C., we often live in a bubble, thinking that all eyes are fixed upon what policy-makers on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies  are doing. But regardless of one’s views about the merits, or lack thereof, of the shutdown, it crystallized one point for me: while the federal government could close its doors for 16 days, the notion of our nation’s public clean water agencies closing their doors for one day – or even one hour – is comparatively unthinkable and would cause a public outcry unlike anything witnessed during the shutdown.  

The fundamental necessity of the service provided by the national network of clean water agencies makes it clear that every stakeholder should collaborate to the greatest degree possible to ensure the continued viability of these agencies.  NACWA is helping to lead this collaboration through efforts like The Water Resources Utility of the Future with the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF); its support of the One Water mission of the U.S. Water Alliance whose objective is to bring diverse stakeholders together to advance sustainable policy approaches; and its active role in the Value of Water Coalition — an industry/water sector association partnership to improve public awareness of the vital importance of investing in our clean and safe water infrastructure.

While NACWA and the water sector steps up its collaborative work, we must redouble our efforts to make sure that perhaps our most vital of partnerships is strengthened — the federal-state-local partnership.  As clean water agencies face growing financial and regulatory challenges and, at the same time, unsurpassed opportunities are being brought about by bold advances in technology and innovation, the local-state-federal partnership must be bolstered.  A shared vision must be advanced that guarantees for future generations another 40 years of environmental gains the likes of which we have benefited from since the enactment of the Clean Water Act.    

Tell us about your successful collaboration with key stakeholders in the comments section below.

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