WaterNow Alliance held its Inaugural Summit last week at Arizona State University, attracting over 60 water utility board members and management leaders from around the West. The focus of the Summit was on unlocking opportunities for expanding adoption of sustainable water strategies at the local level, which was timely - coming a week after the White House Summit on Water Innovation, and at a point when interest in sustainable water strategies is higher than ever before. By the end of the meeting, it was clear that we’ve hit on something important, a need that has not yet been filled – the bringing together of leaders interested in sustainable water solutions - who are the ultimate decision makers on local water policies, strategies, and 85% of water infrastructure spending across the West.
We were excited to have the opportunity to connect these local leaders to key individuals at the federal level, including EPA Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld, Kelly Kryc with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Tom Iseman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Water and Science at the Department of the Interior. Our keynote speaker was Ali Zaidi, the Associate Director for Natural Resources with the Office of Management and Budget, who has
been directing the White House’s Water Innovation Initiative. All underscored the focus – and newly coordinated - federal commitment in supporting local efforts to grow sustainable water solutions, and helping to build resilient local communities, particularly in light of the changing climate.
Summit attendees also:
- Engaged directly with one another on their key concerns, experiences and insights
- Were grounded in the latest water, climate and energy research from university and think tank leaders
- Heard from innovators, NGOs and academic institutions on their cutting edge research and technical innovations in the areas of water efficiency and reuse
- Learned of potential financing solutions from utilities that have figured out how to tap into their capital budgets for decentralized, sustainable water solutions
- Heard about the potential of Public Private Partnerships to fund water initiatives
- Were briefed on the impact of media in how California and the West are talking about water – supply, efficiency, rates and innovation
Additionally, the Arizona Community Foundation announced the opening of its new Water Innovation Challenge to encourage municipalities to develop innovative solutions to advance the sustainability of their water futures.
We left the Summit with a strong sense of purpose and momentum. Many thanks to all of our partners, and particularly to Arizona State University for hosting our Inaugural Summit. We believe this is the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the widespread adoption of sustainable water solutions.
Check out the complete Summit photo album on our Facebook page.