From the President: The Power of Partnerships

June 21, 2017

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Rick Warner, WEF President 2016–2017

Rick Warner, WEF President 2016–2017

With tremendous input from Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) members, the WEF Board of Trustees sets the organization’s strategic direction and ensures adequate resources are available to meet WEF’s critical objectives. But making measurable progress toward achieving WEF’s strategic goals can be challenging. Often, the real action occurs at the local level through the fantastic work of WEF members.

Creating successful water programs through partnerships

The Board of Trustees has encouraged work through partnerships, recognizing that sometimes, partnerships can create the most effective water programs. Working with partners who share a similar vision can help WEF improve management of the world’s water resources and can have a powerful effect on the professional experience of our members. Achieving sustainable water infrastructure and water quality improvements often are crafted through community coalitions and do not simply result from regulatory mandates. We are truly a community of trusted and empowered professionals who make a positive impact on our communities.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Click to see the Effective Utility Management Primer. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

WEF accomplishes much of its work through partnerships on multiple levels. These partners have been key in helping advance our mission. WEF works with 75 global Member Associations to bring technical knowledge to our joint membership. We work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and many others on such essential publications as the Effective Utility Management Primer. WEF also supports innovative water research by working with the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF; Alexandria, Va.) and builds awareness about the value of water to achieve healthy, vibrant communities across the globe.

This summer, WEF and WE&RF will convene 35 water sector experts to create a powerful vision for the future of water in North America. A shared vision allows us to reach aspirational goals together by creating a strong water movement where everyone, through shared and open-minded actions are aiming in the same direction. It allows us to align initiatives and increase commitment for action.  It is our collective responsibility as experts with various backgrounds to ensure the availability of good quality water for future generations.  This effort comes out of WEF’s 2016 Partnering for Impact meeting where WEF, AWWA, WE&RF, Imagine H20 (San Francisco), and nearly a dozen other water sector organizations met to discuss ways to positively affect the water sector.

As a complement to this work, WEF is set to deliver real value to our profession in terms of advocacy and public outreach through two programs — Water Week 2017 and the Value of Water Toolkit.

Advocating for water during Water Week 2017


WEF Video.

Water Week 2017 was a resounding success. Water sector leaders joined to make some noise and advocate for water on Capitol Hill. The week featured a National Water Policy Fly-In in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of attendees including utility experts, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, their congressional staffs, and high-level EPA officials participated. Attendees made more than 300 congressional visits to advocate for water infrastructure funding and participated in a passionate Rally for Water that was shared through a livestream on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of the Value of Water Campaign.

Click to access the report, “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure.” Photo courtesy of the Value of Water Campaign.

To make this event happen, WEF partnered with many organizations including WE&RF, American Water Works Association (AWWA; Denver), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (Washington, D.C.), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (Washington, D.C.), U.S. Water Alliance (Washington, D.C.), WateReuse (Alexandria, Va.), and Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (Leesburg, Va.). During the event, we also worked to leverage the Value of Water Campaign report “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure.” I’m confident that our message — that closing the gap in water infrastructure investment would create 1.3 million jobs and generate $220 billion in economic activity — was heard loud and clear.

Value of Water Toolkit provides public outreach resources

WEF partnered with AWWA to develop a suite of public outreach materials available to our members free of charge called the AWWA-WEF Communicating the Value of Water Toolkit. These materials, which can be downloaded from both WEF’s and AWWA’s websites, help communicate the value of water and wastewater services as well as the need for infrastructure investment.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) partnered with the American Water Works Association (Denver) to develop public outreach materials that communicate the value of water and wastewater services. WEF photo.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) partnered with the American Water Works Association (Denver) to develop public outreach materials that communicate the value of water and wastewater services. WEF photo.

The educational tools consist of infographics that depict the status of water infrastructure in the U.S. on national and regional scales, available in both English and Spanish, and in Canada, available in English and French. Other materials, including a radio public service announcement, bill stuffers, and children’s activities are on the way. These tools are intended to supplement the Value of Water Campaign, which offers additional research and materials to help raise public awareness about the value of water. WEF is a founding member of the Value of Water Campaign.

Partnerships enable WEF to leverage our knowledge, resources, and commitment to provide sustainable stewardship of the world’s water resources. WEF appreciates the contributions of all our members and partners, and we look forward to continuing to work with them on behalf of water quality professionals everywhere.

Rick Warner, WEF President 2016–2017

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