Last week, Cynthia and I traveled to Pittsburgh, PA for the National League of Cities’ (NLC) City Summit – an annual gathering of thousands of local elected officials and municipal staff. We’ve been fortunate to have NLC as a key partner for a couple years now and, as always, were grateful to be involved in their fantastic event.
The 4-day conference covers all things cities & towns – from transportation to community development to energy use to water plus about a hundred topics in between – participants jump between workshops, panel discussions, presentations, committee meetings, an engaging exhibitor hall and nightly receptions.
This year we were very pleased to be able to present at both the Energy, Environment & Natural Resources and the Finance, Administrative, and Intergovernmental Relations committee meetings on our Flexible Financing Initiative. After publishing an article in the GFOA quarterly journal laying out the case for capitalizing water innovation, we updated attendees on our next steps and timeline moving forward.
We also had a great return engagement with the Western Municipal Association, an NLC sub-group comprised of the state leagues in the Western U.S. Last November, we were a new organization with a handful of members and some lofty goals. Returning to the group this year, we are over 90 members strong, we have three on the ground projects moving forward, produced several successful convenings and are working on two critical financing policy initiatives. After the presentation we were excited to add new members to the Alliance from Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. As we keep expanding across the West, we gain strength to take on our most pressing collective water issues.
Cynthia also moderated a panel discussion organized by our partners at the Sustainable Cities Institute titled, “How to Prevent a Water Crisis.” In light of the tragedy in Flint, MI – cities are more alert than ever to maintain their water & water systems integrity and quality. It was a terrific panel with three extraordinary community leaders:
- Mayor Lester Taylor of East Orange, NJ
- Councilmember Dave Richins of Mesa, AZ
- Councilmember Karl Nurse of St. Petersburg, FL
While each community has different water challenges, what was made clear is the need for transparent, creative and bold leadership to drive policies that looks to secure safe, accessible & reliable water for decades to come.
We left Pittsburgh energized by the amazing work happening across the nation and look forward to our continued partnership with the National League of Cities.
Tia Lebherz is WaterNow Alliance’s Communications & Outreach Manager. As a native Californian, she is passionate about advancing sustainable water solutions across the west and building a more resilient future for the region she loves.