Clean-water groups collaborate to shape the utility of the future

What will the new wastewater treatment agency look like? How will it interact with its community?

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There’s no question clean-water agencies are changing. Effluent standards are getting tougher. Money is getting tighter. Communication with the public is paramount. The role of energy – its conservation and production – is growing. How will your agency adapt?

You can get a big-picture look at the answer – at least from the viewpoint of the leaders of top industry associations – in a new report. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) have released a report that defines the evolving environmental, economic, and social roles that clean water utilities are playing and will play in their communities.

What does the Utility of the Future look like? As outlined in Water Resources Utility of the Future...Blueprint for Action (, utilities will transform the way they view themselves and manage their operations. The report explores how traditional treatment works have mastered their core function of water-quality protection and are now redefining themselves as resource recovery agencies and vital community enterprises.

“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 Ken Kirk, NACWA executive director. “It also will help ensure that utility issues are front and center as the 113th Congress and the incoming administration develop their environmental priorities.”

Jeff Eger, WEF executive director, added, “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. They are essential to thriving, sustainable communities.”

The three organizations will use the Blueprint to advance priorities that fall within their areas of expertise: advocacy, technical input, outreach and communications, scientific research, data collection and media relations. They will also work collaboratively on shared objectives and encourage the entire clean-water community will adopt the objectives outlined in the Blueprint and help further its goals.

“Wastewater agencies are facing unprecedented challenges and new opportunities to meet these challenges,” said Glenn Reinhardt, WERF executive director. “This Blueprint will help propel the discussion about the evolving utility and where we need to go.”


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