By Carita Parks, Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF)
Last month, a broad array of water professionals from across the country arrived in the nation’s capital for the inaugural Water Week 2014. Organized by the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), Water Week offered a unique opportunity to bring clean water advocacy, education, and innovation to Capitol Hill. Overall, the event informed and inspired these key decision-makers about the considerable value of water and its vital importance to public health, the environment, job creation, and a strong economy.
The highlight of Water Week was the National Water Policy Forum & Fly-in on April 7 to 9, 2014. The Forum featured Congressional speakers, policy briefings, visits to Capitol Hill, and roundtable dialogues with key policymakers.
During the April 7th Congressional reception, WERF celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special recognition of Virginia Representative Jim Moran for his many years of support. Although federal spending on wastewater infrastructure has significantly declined, Rep. Moran has continued to advocate for WERF. As he is retiring, Rep. Moran has asked Congress to redouble its efforts to continue water quality research.
In the April 8, 2014 Congressional Record, Rep. Moran recognized WERF as a “highly respected national center of water quality research. Its research has helped create many new tools for restoring water quality and informed better state and federal regulation, saving the U.S. water quality community as much as $2 billion over the last 20 years.”
The Policy Forum & Fly-in kicked off with “Utilities of the Future…Engaging Communities, Embracing New Challenges & Ensuring Economic Prosperity,” which focused on clean water technologies and water management innovations that are being pursued by five unique public agencies – San Francisco, Cincinnati, Chicago, Onondaga County, and Atlanta. In addition to remarks provided by Congressional Clean Water Caucus Co-Chairs John Duncan (R-TN) and Timothy Bishop (D-NY), speakers included Harlan Kelly, General Manager, City & County of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, CA; Tony Parrott, Executive Director, Greater Cincinnati Water Works, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, OH; David St. Pierre, Executive Director, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, IL; Matt Millea, Deputy County Executive, Onondaga County Department of Water Environment, NY; and Jo Ann Macrina, Commissioner, City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, GA. These Utilities of the Future are pioneering new technologies and cutting-edge practices to manage valuable resources, spur economic development, create jobs, and improve the environment and public health.
To culminate Water Week 2014, the Water Infrastructure & Innovation Expo celebrated the best in progressive solutions and cutting-edge technologies. The Expo featured a select group of leading water sector companies who are setting new standards in water ingenuity and sustainable approaches to water management. Participants included:
The Expo provided a critical opportunity for our nation’s decision makers to speak with experts and learn first-hand about the latest solutions to America’s most pressing water challenges.
Image credit: "washington, dc," mk30 © 2012, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/