Understanding and Celebrating the Value of Water

WWEMA’s Chairman Frank Rebori, president of Smith and Loveless Inc., has made funding for water and wastewater his priority this year for the Association. Rather than lamenting the declining federal dollars for water infrastructure, he challenged WWEMA and its member companies - as well as industry colleagues - to think outside the box and find new ways to fund critically needed infrastructure upgrades. WWEMA took on that challenge in several ways.

By Vanessa Leiby

WWEMA’s Chairman Frank Rebori, president of Smith and Loveless Inc., has made funding for water and wastewater his priority this year for the Association. Rather than lamenting the declining federal dollars for water infrastructure, he challenged WWEMA and its member companies - as well as industry colleagues - to think outside the box and find new ways to fund critically needed infrastructure upgrades.

WWEMA took on that challenge in several ways. In March of this year we launched the WWEMA Water Challenge to raise awareness of the value of water and the need for adequate funding for water and wastewater infrastructure. Using the #NoWater hash tag, we challenged WWEMA members; colleagues; local, state, and federal officials; university students; community leaders and other concerned citizens; and members of Congress to “turn off their taps,” whether literally or figuratively, and share their experiences on social media. The Challenge continued through Water Week, April 12-18, which coincided with WWEMA’s Washington Forum as well as several other water advocacy group events. Participants were directed to WWEMA’s website, which contained various materials as well as suggestions on additional steps to take, including supporting legislation to remove the volume caps on private activity bonds and supporting increased funding for the state revolving loan funds. The Word Cloud (above) is a fun depiction of the various responses we received.

Building on that initiative, the title of WWEMA’s April Washington Forum was “Where’s the Funding? Making the Most of New Opportunities.” A number of speakers at the Forum highlighted funding opportunities, including the use of private equity through public private partnerships, opportunities for funding large projects through the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center, and using water purchase agreements to finance infrastructure improvements. WWEMA has also supported reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which provides financing and services to help manufacturers successfully sell their products in foreign markets.

Now, this October, the Value of Water Coalition is launching a national education campaign to engage the public and stakeholders about how water infrastructure and water resources are essential, invaluable, and in need of investment. Announced on August 27, the Imagine A Day Without Water campaign (www.ImagineADayWithoutWater.org) will take place October 6-8, 2015, across the country with participation from partner organizations, water providers, local elected officials, and more. According to Radhika Fox, president of the U.S. Water Alliance and director of the Value of Water Coalition, “Imagine A Day Without Water is an opportunity for every organization and individual that cares about water and the systems that bring it to and from homes and businesses to stand together for our most precious resource.”

ImagineADayWithoutWater.org offers participating organizations a central location for accessing materials to assist in the planning and production of events including:

  • Ideas for how to participate
  • Messaging guide
  • Tips for planning a press event
  • Op-ed template
  • Toolkit for ads, with horizontal and vertical print ads, billboards and more

WWEMA will be continuing the funding dialogue at various sessions at its upcoming Annual Member meeting November 5-7 in Dallas, Texas (www.wwema.org). Water is precious to each and every one of us. I encourage everyone to get involved and help make a difference!


About the Author: Vanessa Leiby is executive director of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA). Since 1908, WWEMA has informed, educated, and provided leadership on the issues that shape the future of the water and wastewater industry.

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