2019 Year in Review US Water Alliance

As the year – and decade – comes to a close, the US Water Alliance thanks our members, funders, and partners for all that we’ve accomplished together. In partnership with individuals and organizations across the nation, we’ve made incredible progress towards building a sustainable water future for all and we are grateful for all those who are a part of the One Water movement.

We look forward to all that 2020 will bring and hope you enjoy reflecting on all the One Water successes from the past year.

In 2019, we welcomed 22 new members!

From water utilities to labor unions, from community organizations to academia – our members represent the diversity of stakeholders that are working to solve the One Water challenges facing our nation today.

The Value of Water Campaign released its Three-Year Progress Report.

An unprecedented collaboration between the water sector’s most influential organizations, the Value of Water Campaign is building public and political will for investment in our nation’s water infrastructure. Staffed by the US Water Alliance, the Campaign released its Three-Year Progress Report with impressive wins on behalf of water.

Diverse stakeholders found common ground on the role of utility consolidation in advancing One Water.

Building bridges to tackle tough issues is a hallmark of the US Water Alliance. In 2019, we released Guiding Principles for Utility Consolidation. These principles reflect agreement among a cross-section of water leaders about the core values that should guide the uptick in community-based utility consolidation. The Alliance and UNC Environmental Finance Center also issued a companion report, Strengthening Utilities through Consolidation: The Financial Impact, which provides real world case studies of successful consolidation efforts.

The Value of Water Campaign released the fourth annual Value of Water Index at Water Week.

For four years, the Value of Water Campaign has polled American voters to better understand their opinions about the state of our nation’s water infrastructure and what they view as priorities for action and potential solutions. This year, the Campaign released the Value of Water National Poll Findings at Water Week 2019, and showcased that 85 percent of Americans support increasing federal investment to rebuild our water infrastructure.

We deepened our One Water for America Policy Framework with the State Policymakers Toolkit.

Developed in partnership with the Council of State Governments, the State Policymakers Toolkit is a resource for state policymakers on the big water challenges of today and real-world state policy successes in action. The Toolkit is being used by dozens of state legislators, governor’s water policy staff, and state agency staff across the country.

The Water Equity Taskforce built equitable water solutions in seven major cities.

The US Water Alliance’s Seven City Water Equity Taskforce is advancing policies and programs to ensure vulnerable populations benefit from water management decisions. Cross-sector learning teams from Atlanta, Buffalo, Camden, Cleveland, Louisville, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh are collaborating to drive a new era of equitable water management. Three of the Water Equity Taskforce members—Buffalo, Camden, and Louisville—released comprehensive reports on the connections between water management and equity issues in their respective cities. In 2020, we will expand this work through a national Water Equity Learning and Action Network. Stay tuned!

Water Equity Taskforce members at One Water Summit 2019 in Austin, TX

The National Blue Ribbon Commission celebrated its two-year anniversary.

To commemorate the accomplishments of our two-year initiative with the National Blue Ribbon Commission for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems, we released the NBRC Highlights and Accomplishments Report. Comprised of 32 members from public health agencies and water/wastewater utilities, the Commission produced five guidance documents and participated in four research studies. CA and CO have passed new legislation based off their efforts, and several other states are introducing legislation.

From left: Paul Jones, Eastern Municipal Water District; Peter Grevatt, The Water Research Foundation; Radhika Fox, US Water Alliance; Paula Kehoe, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; Patricia Sinicropi, WateReuse

The Value of Water Campaign elevated water as a national priority at the eighth annual Infrastructure Week.

As a member of the Infrastructure Week Steering Committee, the Value of Water Campaign is elevating discussion of water infrastructure issues, which are too often out of sight and out of mind. In 2019, the Value of Water Campaign, in partnership with the National League of Cities and National Association of Counties, hosted a moderated panel on Smart Water and emerging technologies in the water sector and beyond.

The Future is Now panelists from left: Albert Cho, Xylem; Ted Henifin, Hampton Roads Sanitation District; Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District; Andrew Sawyers, Office of Wastewater Management, Environmental Protection Agency

From top: Scott Berry, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, US Water Alliance; Randy Maluchnik, Commissioner, Carver County, MN; The Honorable Corina Lopez, Vice Mayor, City of San Leandro, CA

We hosted the inaugural One Water Leadership Institute, focused on Adaptive Leadership.

The US Water Alliance’s inaugural member-only One Water Leadership Institute took place this summer in Madison, WI. Facilitated by Michael Mucha, Chief Engineer and Director of the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, the Institute brought 40 water professionals from the Alliance member network to focus on the Adaptive Leadership challenges we all face daily. Given the popularity of this Institute, it will be offered in 2020 for Alliance members! Keep an eye out for announcement of dates.

One Water Leadership Institute participants in Madison, WI
Institute participants learning principles of, and strategies for, Adaptive Leadership

In partnership with the Kresge Foundation, we helped communities build equitable flood resilience.

Flooding is the most common and costly disaster in the United States. The US Water Alliance and the Kresge Foundation convened Water, Equity, and Climate: An Urban Flooding Bootcamp, bringing together learning teams from Chicago, Des Moines, Detroit, Hampton, Houston, Jackson, Philadelphia, Raleigh, and Seattle to co-create strategies for equitable flood resilience. Stay tuned for our findings, expected for publication in Spring 2020!

Radhika Fox, US Water Alliance, moderates a panel discussion featuring (from left): Jamil Bey, Urban Kind Institute; OJ McFoy, Buffalo Sewer Authority; Andy Kricun, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority; SeMia Bray, Emerald Cities Collaborative
Climate Bootcamp participants engaging in group work and knowledge exchange

We convened 1,000 One Water leaders in Austin, TX for One Water Summit 2019.

Over the course of the three-day One Water Summit, 1,000 changemakers from diverse walks of life forged partnerships and crafted solutions to our nation’s most pressing water challenges. Summit attendees came from over 200 cities and towns across 40 states.

Finding the We in Water panelists from left: David Beckman, Pisces Foundation; Brenda Coley, Milwaukee Water Commons; Radhika Fox, US Water Alliance; Mami Hara, Seattle Public Utilities

From top left: One Water Delegation Peer Dialogue, Barton Spring Site Visit, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Site Visit, One Water Delegation Commitment to Action Ceremony, US Water Prize Award Ceremony

The Value of Water Campaign spearheaded a record breaking Imagine A Day Without Water.

2019 was Imagine a Day Without Water’s largest year yet with over 1,200 participants. Some highlights of the day included the release of bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help low-income families pay for drinking water and wastewater and the support of Colgate in partnership with their brand ambassador Michael Phelps.

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission celebrated Alliance CEO Radhika Fox.

WSSC Water honored US Water Alliance’s CEO Radhika Fox, along with Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, as a champion for equity and affordability at the annual Blue Tie Ball, which raises funds for the Water Fund. Thank you WSSC Water for your leadership!

From Left: Beatte Wright; Scott Berry, US Water Alliance; Radhika Fox, US Water Alliance; Carla Reid, WSSC Water; Debra Coy, XPV Water Partners; Adam Krantz, NACWA

We deepened partnerships between agricultural and municipal One Water leaders.

Securing our nation’s water and food supplies are inextricably tied and cannot be tackled by any one sector alone. Thirty innovative leaders in agriculture and water gathered with the US Water Alliance at The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread in Racine, WI. Attendees worked together to untangle what makes agriculture-municipal watershed partnerships successful and how to scale this promising approach. The Alliance will release a report on these enabling conditions – from governance frameworks to the business case and benefits – in early 2020.

Agriculture-Municipal Leadership Exchange participants in Racine, WI
Nature walk around The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread campus

Our second One Water Leadership Institute featured strategies for effective communication.

This members-only institute, hosted by Valley Water in San Jose, CA, brought together 40 Alliance members to learn best-in-class practices for Strategic Communication. Members learned about crafting communication campaign plans and persuasive messages and about applying those practices to specific challenges they face in their home communities. Given the popularity of this Institute, it will be offered in 2020 for Alliance members! Stay tuned for the dates.

One Water Leadership Institute participants in San Jose, CA
Top: Presentations from Rick Callender, Chief of External Affairs, Valley Water and Monica Marquina, Legislative Affairs Manager, WSSC Water; Bottom: Tour of Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center

We released the nationally recognized Closing the Water Access Gap National Action Plan.

The US Water Alliance, in partnership with DigDeep, released Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan, the most comprehensive report on two million Americans living without access to running water, indoor plumbing, or safe sanitation. Covered by NPR, The New York Times, GQ, MTV, and beyond, the report presents a national action plan for closing the water access gap in our lifetime.

Images from the Water Access Gap report, photography by Brittany App

Our excitement about all that 2019 brought is only exceeded by our excitement for all that is yet to come. By harnessing the power of collective action and leveraging the strength of our partnerships across the nation, we can make a sustainable water future for all a reality.

Yours in One Water, the US Water Alliance Team