If WaterNow Alliance’s 2nd Water Summit is any indication – interest in sustainable water strategies among water leaders is strong and growing. Fostering Resilience: Leading on Sustainability was held at the Orange County Water District (OCWD) October 25-26, in collaboration with the Mayors Innovation Project (MIP), a learning network among mayors nationwide committed to high road sustainability policies, among other objectives. We could not have asked for better partners than OCWD and MIP. OCWD is on the cutting edge of sustainable groundwater management and MIP works with innovative mayors from across the country, allowing us to reach a broader national audience of water leaders – over 75 leaders attended the Summit representing 15 states from across the nation.
The specific purpose of this Summit was to explore opportunities for thinking synergistically about water solutions across municipal priorities. Often referred to as the “One Water” approach, the concept is to examine options for treating water from all sources — whether drinking water, stormwater, groundwater or recycled water — as a fully integrated resource and explore new opportunities for broader community benefits. The objectives of Fostering Resilience were to engage and empower water leaders to look more seriously at sustainable water approaches and potential applications for One Water solutions in their own communities, as well as to highlight opportunities for potential collective action.
We were very fortunate to have several inspiring keynote speakers, including former Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, who told the compelling and inspiring story of his city’s success and innovative water management. Tucson City Councilmember Paul Cunningham and Inland Empire Utilities Agency's Martha Davis brought One Water to life, showing how water providers are increasingly finding it critically important and valuable to think about water at all points in the water cycle and how communities like Tucson are leading the way in deploying these sustainable strategies at scale.
The Summit program focused on 4 key topics:
- All Infrastructure is Water Infrastructure
- Integrating Racial and Economic Equity into Water Decision Making
- Conservation is the New Supply
- Creative Financing for Sustainability
Fostering Resilience brought together an extraordinary group of presentations and discussions – from LA’s Adel Hagekhalil presenting on the City’s extraordinary track record of stormwater recapture projects, to De’Sean Quinn outlining King County, Washington’s 14 Determinants of Equity as they relate to water, to EPA’s Jim Gebhardt on the federal alphabet soup (WIFIA! SRF!) that can unlock meaningful financial opportunities at the local level.
We’ll be providing blogs detailing these sessions over the next few days, following up on all the incredible momentum we feel and are already looking ahead to our next summit in the Denver Metro area this Spring.
Check out our photo album here.
Special thanks to our collaborating partners the National League of Cities, American Rivers, the Local Government Commission and our corporate sponsors Rachio and Cascadia Consulting.
Cynthia Koehler is Executive Director and Co-Founder of WaterNow Alliance.