How Water and Electric Utilities Can Co-Create Their Futures

In August 2013, water and energy experts gather at The House, The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread (Racine, Wis.) to discuss potential collaboration between the water, wastewater, and electric-power sectors. Photo courtesy of The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.

In August 2013, water and energy experts gather at The House, The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread (Racine, Wis.) to discuss potential collaboration between the water, wastewater, and electric-power sectors. Photo courtesy of The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.

Water utilities need energy, and energy utilities need water, lots of it. But a growing number of water utilities are generating electricity and transportation fuels. And many electric utilities can use wastewater to cool their facilities.

All types of utilities experience the effects of a changing climate but few have explored ways to work together to either mitigate or adapt to these changes. In August, a meeting convened by The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread (Racine, Wis.) brought together a group of experts to discuss ways to foster collaboration among the water, wastewater, and electric-power sectors to develop mutually reinforcing solutions to resource management.

Click to see the report, Building Resilient Utilities: How Water and Electric Utilities Can Co-Create Their Futures. Photo courtesy of The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.

Based on the meeting discussions, the foundation released the report, Building Resilient Utilities: How Water and Electric Utilities Can Co-Create Their Futures. The report describes opportunities at the water–energy nexus, hurdles to cross-sector collaboration, recommended strategies for catalyzing cross-sector collaboration, and visions of the integrated utility of the future.

“WEF members were instrumental in in creating the vision,” said Barry Liner, director of WEF’s Water Science & Engineering Center. Two WEF leaders, Andy Kricun, executive director/chief engineer at Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority; and Chris Peot, civil/environmental engineer, director of resource recovery at DC Water, have been featured on the foundation’s online forum, Inspiring Solutions. The new online dialogue forum offers a place to convene, share ideas, and find innovative solutions with a sustained impact, Liner said.

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