The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) have jointly released a pioneering document that defines the evolving environmental, economic, and social roles that clean water utilities are playing in their communities.
As outlined in Water Resources Utility of the Future . . . Blueprint for Action, this new “Water Resources Utility of the Future” (UOTF) will transform the way traditional wastewater utilities view themselves and manage their operations. The document explores how traditional publicly owned treatment works have mastered their core wastewater treatment function and are now redefining themselves as resource recovery agencies and vital community enterprises.
The blueprint opens the door to re-imagining the Clean Water Act in the wake of unprecedented progress and evolution over the 40 years since the Act’s passage.
“This Blueprint will help us realize a sustainable future that minimizes waste, maximizes resources, protects the ratepayer, improves the community, and embraces innovation in an unprecedented manner,” said NACWA Executive Director Ken Kirk. “It also will help ensure that UOTF issues are front and center as the 113th Congress and incoming Administration develop their environmental priorities.”
“Today’s utilities are reclaiming and reusing water, extracting and finding commercial uses for nutrients and other products, becoming more efficient energy users and renewable energy producers, and using green infrastructure to manage stormwater and to improve the quality of life,” said WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger. “They are essential to thriving, sustainable communities.”
Each of the three organizations will use the Blueprint to advance the priorities that fall within their area of expertise. These include advocacy, technical input, outreach/communications, scientific research, data collection and media relations.
Wherever possible, however, the three organizations will continue to work collaboratively on shared objectives. In addition, it is hoped that the entire clean water community will adopt the objectives outlined in the Blueprint and participate in moving toward its goals as well.
“Wastewater agencies are facing both unprecedented challenges and new opportunities to meet these challenges,” said WERF Executive Director Glenn Reinhardt. “This Blueprint will help propel the discussion about the evolving utility and where we need to go.”