WEF Members Stand Together in Defense of Water During Water Week

May 31, 2017

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From left, Maine Water Environment Association members Mac Richardson and Chris Littlefield carry signs showing the economic benefits of water during the Water Week 2017 Rally for Water. Photo courtesy of Matt Timberlake, president of Ted Berry Company Inc. (Livermore, Maine).

From left, Maine Water Environment Association members Mac Richardson and Chris Littlefield carry signs showing the economic benefits of water during the Water Week 2017 Rally for Water. Photo courtesy of Matt Timberlake, president of Ted Berry Company Inc. (Livermore, Maine).

Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) members exemplified their dedication to water by traveling to Washington, D.C., to attend the 2017 National Water Policy Fly-In & Expo. More than 200 water professionals gathered for the event, held March 21–22, to

  • hear leaders discuss important water sector issues,
  • network with other water professionals,
  • learn about current water policy, and
  • meet with members of Congress.
Water sector professionals from the New England area visited Congressional legislators on Capitol Hill. These professionals included, from left, Richardson, New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) director; Dan Bison, past NEWEA treasurer; Littlefield, town manager of Hartland, Maine; Kristal Flagg, town manager of Livermore Falls, Maine; Paula Drouin, Maine Water Environment Association (MEWEA) vice president; and Matt Timberlake, MEWEA president. Photo courtesy of Timberlake.

Water sector professionals from the New England area visited congressional legislators on Capitol Hill. These professionals included, from left, Richardson, New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) director; Dan Bison, past NEWEA treasurer; Littlefield, town manager of Hartland, Maine; Kristal Flagg, town manager of Livermore Falls, Maine; Paula Drouin, Maine Water Environment Association (MEWEA) vice president; and Matt Timberlake, MEWEA president. Photo courtesy of Timberlake.

“We advocated for investments in water infrastructure and collaborated on a number of joint efforts,” said B. Scott Cummings, senior associate at Hazen and Sawyer (New York) and member of the Alabama Water Environment Association. The event brought together water professionals from a variety of organizations and companies to share a similar message in support of water infrastructure investment with their representatives in Congress. Attendees also had the opportunity to engage with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leaders, he said.

Lynn Broaddus, president of Broadview Collaborative Inc. (Wauwatosa, Wis.) and Ray Marshall, executive director of the Narragansett Bay Commission (Providence, R.I.), give welcoming remarks during the plenary session. WEF photo/Steve Dye.

Lynn Broaddus, president of Broadview Collaborative Inc. (Wauwatosa, Wis.) and Ray Marshall, executive director of the Narragansett Bay Commission (Providence, R.I.), give welcoming remarks during the plenary session. WEF photo/Steve Dye.

The event began with a plenary session featuring high-level EPA staff discussing water priorities. Attendees then broke into roundtable discussions featuring seven different topics including water finance, the energy-water nexus, and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. For the second day, attendees learned about the economic opportunities offered by investing in water infrastructure and priorities for the 115th Congress. They also attended the first Rally for Water, visited Congress members, and attended a Water Week 2017 Congressional Reception.

Bob Fischer, chair of the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) Government Affairs Committee (right) and Mary Barry, executive director of NEWEA, talk during the NEWEA Congressional Briefing. Photo courtesy of Ray Willis.

Bob Fischer, chair of the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) Government Affairs Committee (right) and Mary Barry, executive director of NEWEA, talk during the NEWEA Congressional Briefing. Photo courtesy of Ray Willis.

“This is a unique and strategic opportunity for water professionals to network with other water professionals and discuss key issues with EPA so that WEF can continue to leverage its resources and partnerships to influence good water policy in America,” Cummings said. “We have developed more credibility as water advocates and established ourselves as a resource for our Congressional delegation.”

“All aspects of this two-day event were well done and provided important communication, timely information, and wonderful networking,” said Shelagh Connelly, president of RMI (Holderness, N.H.), and member of the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA). She especially enjoyed listening to EPA representatives speak during a panel, participating in break-out sessions, and attending the Rally for Water. Connelly said she would recommend that others, especially her peers in the New England area, plan on attending the event next year.

Water sector leaders meet to discuss water priorities with U.S. Sen Bernie Sanders (D–Vt.), pictured second from left. These water leaders were, from left, James Ehlers, NEWEA Government Affairs Committee member; Ed McCormick, past president of WEF; and Fischer. Photo courtesy of Katie Thomas, Sen. Sanders’ Policy Advisor for Energy and Environment, and Fischer. Water sector leaders meet to discuss water priorities with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–Vt.), pictured second from left. These water leaders were, from left, Ed McCormick, past president of WEF; James Ehlers, NEWEA Government Affairs Committee member; and Fischer. Photo courtesy of Sen Leahy staff and Fischer.
Water sector leaders attending the 2017 National Water Policy Fly-In & Expo join together to visit U.S. Sen Bernie Sanders (D–Vt.), pictured in photo on the left, and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–Vt.), pictured in photo on the right. Photos courtesy of Fischer, Sanders’ staff, and Leahy’s staff. 

NEWEA Government Affairs Committee chairperson, Bob Fischer, was happy that the member association could collaborate on the event. While Congress members from his Vermont district support water quality funding, the event offered an opportunity to provide resources to these officials and hear from other officials on water quality issues. “This was an opportunity to support them by giving them information and tools they can use,” Fischer said.

From right, Christopher Stacklin, member of the California Water Environment Association, talks to Alexander Lee, legislative aide for U.S. Rep. Mimi Walters (R–Calif.), during the 2017 National Water Policy Fly-In & Expo. Photo courtesy of Ed McCormick.

From right, Christopher Stacklin, member of the California Water Environment Association, talks to Alexander Lee, legislative aide for U.S. Rep. Mimi Walters (R–Calif.), during the 2017 National Water Policy Fly-In & Expo. Photo courtesy of Ed McCormick.

Maine Water Environment Association members and municipal officials from the New England-area participated in many of the scheduled activities and visited all four offices of Maine’s congressional delegation, said Clayton Richardson, superintendent of the  Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority (Maine). “All of these activities serve the dual purpose of uniting the water environment professionals that spend their time coming to Washington, [D.C.], to advocate for the importance water and maintaining our water infrastructure, but also sending these important messages out to a wider audience,” Richardson said. “We need to remind our elected officials of what we do and why we do it every day.  If we are not there, the amazing job that our profession does every day can too easily be taken for granted.”

During a meeting held at the National Water Policy Fly-In, Sen. Sanders agreed to host another meeting in Vermont to discuss water quality issues. Fischer worked with the senator’s staff to invite local water professionals to attend this follow-up meeting on May 5 in Burlington, Vt. Attendees discussed affordability issues that state municipalities experience. Photo courtesy of Fischer.

During a meeting held at the National Water Policy Fly-In, Sen. Sanders agreed to host another meeting in Vermont to discuss water quality issues. Fischer worked with the senator’s staff to invite local water professionals to attend this follow-up meeting on May 5 in Burlington, Vt. Attendees discussed affordability issues that state municipalities experience. Photo courtesy of Fischer.

Christopher Stacklin, Orange County Sanitation District engineer and member of the California Water Environment Association (CWEA), teamed up with Ed McCormick, CWEA attendee and past president of WEF, for the congressional visits. “Representatives that we spoke with were both engaged and very candid on water issues that our industry faces today,” Stacklin said. “Ed and I provided local perspectives of what is going on at our facilities.” They also tied in local needs with national water and wastewater infrastructure needs. “I am looking forward to participating again next year to continue our conversation,” Stacklin said.

Get more highlights from Water Week 2017 with #WaterWeek2017 or in the video below:

For more information, contact WEF staff members, Steve Dye at sdye@wef.org or Amy Kathman at akathman@wef.org.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

Continue Raising Awareness with WEF Resources

The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) invites members to continue raising public awareness and advocating for resources for the water sector. Join the Water Advocates Program, an initiative sponsored by WEF, to get updates on resources and current water legislation. To help advocate, use

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