EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management hosted utility leaders, including several NACWA members, from around the country in May to discuss the current landscape of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) exchange and how to further support and enhance these vital networking tools. The convening addressed unmet needs, key opportunities, essential elements for creating effective P2P relationships, anticipated challenges and more. The final synthesis was released last week.
The convening identified three new utility concepts: “networked utilities,” “non-networked utilities,” and “hub utilities.” Utilities that are defined as “networked” are active and visible within the water sector and usually participate and attend national association conferences, committee meetings and webinars. Usually, these networked utilities represent a small percentage of water sector utilities.
Utilities defined as “non-networked” are generally inactive in association or professional offerings, although these utilities may be members. These represent a significant number of water sector utilities according to the definition, and can often be difficult to engage through outreach efforts. Finally, the “hub utilities” are high-capacity utilities that have the capability to offer support within their local or regional areas to “non-networked” utilities.
Identifying an action plan for utilities, the convening identified three opportunities: enhancement of current efforts, a national “fifty-state model” P2P effort, and community leader engagement. Building out the concept of hub utilities, including more efficient utility matchmaking, is a crucial aspect of the way forward, as well as developing and curating a centralized method to engage “non-networked” utilities. Effective communication with local community and political leaders is also an important piece to advancing P2P efforts. The convening synthesis is available for download.