AWWA releases think tank report, sustainability recommendations

Dec. 2, 2022
The association has shared the first in its series of five think tank reports, which culminated in a series of broad recommended actions, for its initiative to plan for a sustainable water future.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has shared the first in a series of five think tank reports associated with its Water 2050 initiative. This first think tank puts forth 10 recommendations for a sustainable water future from a diverse group of thinkers.

The Water 2050 initiative is AWWA’s work toward the future of water and sustainability.

The 24 participants in the Water 2050 Sustainability Think Tank, which took place Sept. 21-23 at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, included voices from the water and wastewater utility and consulting community, agriculture, climate science, academia, environmental advocacy, regulatory agencies, the beverage industry and innovation incubation, among others. The group engaged in a series of facilitated discussions and developed 10 recommended actions that can be grouped into four broad categories:

Implement a new water utility paradigm

  • Integrate management of drinking water, wastewater, reuse, and energy utilities
  • Cultivate partnership between agriculture and other major water users
  • Shift to watershed-based thinking

Establish a climate resilient water future

  • Reduce the water community’s impacts on climate change
  • Identify financing structures for future resiliency

Define the value of water for a new reality

  • Reframe the value of water to reflect a sustainable future
  • Assure equity and affordability in future investments
  • Use consolidation and operational efficiencies to achieve economies of scale in water systems

Achieve circularity of water

  • Define a net zero water community
  • Maximize efficiency through reuse, conservation, and collaboration

"AWWA is uniquely positioned to host these Water 2050 conversations and explore long-term solutions for the water community," says Joe Jacangelo, AWWA president. “By bringing together diverse voices and thought leaders from various fields, we will be better prepared to overcome the significant water challenges that lie ahead."

WaterWorld recently spoke with AWWA past-President Melissa Elliot about the association's Water 2050 Initiative. Watch the interview here:

Four other think tanks will be held over the next six months to visualize the future of water through the additional drivers of technology, economics, governance, and social/demographics. Recommendations will be reported after each think tank and, after all five are completed, the reports will be combined with additional Water 2050 inputs into a final report. The outcomes will be presented at AWWA’s 2023 Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE23) in Toronto.

The next Water 2050 Think Tank, focusing on technology, is Dec. 5-7 in Mountain View, Calif. Information on how to engage in the initiative or to learn more is available on the Water 2050 webpage.

The full Think Tank report is available here.

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