ALEXANDRIA, VA, April 9, 2014 -- On Tuesday, April 8, Congressional Clean Water Caucus Co-Chairs John Duncan (R-TN) and Timothy Bishop (D-NY) joined public agency leaders at the inaugural briefing of the Caucus to highlight innovative technologies and approaches in the water sector and the vital local and national economic benefits they ultimately provide.
Over 40 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act (CWA), clean water agencies across the country are undergoing a remarkable transformation from wastewater treatment plants to full-blown resource-recovery agents. These "Utilities of the Future" are pioneering new technologies and cutting-edge practices to manage valuable resources, spur economic development, create jobs, and improve the environment and public health.
The briefing, entitled "Utilities of the Future ... Engaging Communities, Embracing New Challenges & Ensuring Economic Prosperity," focused on the clean water technologies and water management innovations that are being pursued by five unique public agencies -- San Francisco, Cincinnati, Chicago, Onondaga County, and Atlanta.
"It is an honor to speak before the Clean Water Caucus about the strides Atlanta is making in the areas of clean water technologies and water management innovations," said Jo Ann Macrina, Commissioner of the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management. "The city's infrastructure has turned away from a model of compliance and toward one of sustainability. Successful execution of the federal consent decree has opened the doors to fiscal balance, and across the enterprise we are employing cutting-edge strategies to meet the needs of our great city and the surrounding region."
MWRD Executive Director David St. Pierre added, "The work utilities are performing has evolved since the CWA was passed. We can no longer look at sewage as a waste product, but instead, as a collection of resources to be recovered and reused. It is vital that we examine potential sources of renewable energy, find ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and recover valuable raw materials as we work toward the common goal of improving our water environment."
Accordingly, Tony Parrott, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Greater Cincinnati Water Works, also commented, "The economic realities that water utilities are facing to implement unfunded regulatory mandates is becoming a huge affordability challenge for urban core cities. In response, utilities are bringing forth innovative solutions to promote community revitalization, economic development and job creation in concert with projects being constructed to meet regulatory compliance. This new approach is a sustainable solution that is a part of the 'Utilities of the Future' concept and the one-water initiative that is being discussed on the national stage."
Logan Olds, General Manager of Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA), who provided welcoming remarks at the briefing, also noted, "VVWRA is a mid-size agency that has installed three technologies that existed nowhere else in the world through fully embracing the 'Utility of the Future' vision. Utilities across the country are embracing this vision, and the bipartisan Clean Water Caucus will provide an opportunity for legislators to help advance the UOTF paradigm."
The Congressional Briefing is one of several notable events of the inaugural Water Week 2014, which continues through April 11. Organized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), Water Week 2014 has brought hundreds of water and wastewater professionals to the nation's capital to discuss key legislative, regulatory and legal water developments with members of Congress and federal regulators; showcase innovations and new technologies; and celebrate the progress of water professionals in addressing U.S. water challenges. For more information on Water Week and individual events, visit www.WaterWeek.us.
See also: "Water Week 2014 to advocate for clean water, education, innovation at capital"