The Association California Water Agencies (ACWA) held its Spring Conference in Monterey last week and WaterNow Alliance was thrilled to be featured in the Conference’s Opening Breakfast, speaking to more than 1,000 local water leaders. The kick off session – “Connecting with California’s Innovation with Water Policy” - was a newer focus for ACWA that put a spotlight on unconventional water solutions.
The panel centered on Imagine H2O’s Water Policy Challenge, which attracted over 100 actionable policy recommendations to drive adoption of water technologies. WaterNow Alliance’s plan for unlocking investment for distributed water technology was a Finalist in the competition, and the panel also included the SF Public Utilities Commission and Alliance for Water Efficiency which jointly won the Policy Challenge with their project to make onsite water reuse the norm in California.
The Opening Breakfast was a fantastic opportunity to connect with hundreds of California utilities around an idea that often comes off as mind-numbingly wonky (accounting standards, really?) but also, potentially, incredibly impactful. Distributed, decentralized water solutions – lower water landscaping, graywater systems, rainwater catchment, watershed protection, etc. – have significant potential to realize large water savings and other benefits. However, to most utility CFOs, they don’t look like “capital assets” making it challenging to access the municipal bond financing needed for utilities to invest in these strategies at scale. As we discussed at ACWA, our proposal is to secure policy guidance from the key governmental accounting authorities clarifying when and under what circumstances water utilities can debt finance distributed approaches consistent with current accounting rules. Check out our briefing paper for more information on this initiative.
We are delighted to be working with Imagine H2O on this initiative and very pleased that ACWA gave us the opportunity to bring it to such a critical audience of Water Leaders. You can watch the opening session from this year's ACWA conference, "Connecting California's Innovation with Water Policy" here.
Walt Wadlow is the Director of Utility Relations for WaterNow Alliance. Cynthia Koehler is the Executive Director & Co-Founder.