(October 2, 2018) – NACWA members played a prominent role at WEFTEC2018 this week in New Orleans, helping to promote and advance key clean water priorities.
During a Saturday workshop on watersheds, NACWA members NEWWater (Wisconsin), the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and Clean Water Services (Oregon)provided the foundation for an afternoon of discussion by describing the innovative work they are doing to address water quality challenges at the watershed level. Small group discussions around finance, partnerships, data, governance, and regulatory accountability explored what is working and where additional effort will be needed to enable more watershed-level water quality initiatives.
The Clean Water Policy Update on Monday afternoon featured remarks from Assistant Administrator for Water Dave Ross and senior staff from the four main water offices. Ross began his remarks by outlining how the Agency and the Office of Water are working to improve the way they do business. Ross stressed the importance of engaging those regulated by EPA’s programs earlier and more frequently during the rulemaking process and noted efforts to improve water management across the entire federal family, including the creation of a Water Subcabinet – made up of Ross and his counterparts from the various federal agencies with responsibility for water.
Ross also listed his priority issue areas – infrastructure funding, workforce, regulatory certainty, public health, nutrients and reuse – but provided no new information beyond what NACWA was already tracking. On nutrients, he noted that his new Deputy Assistant Administrator, Anna Wildeman, is focused on the nutrient issue and ensuring the Agency is making as much progress as possible on that front. Ross noted that this effort will look to better embrace market-based mechanisms (e.g., trading) and NACWA has already begun a dialogue with Wildeman on the issue.
Tuesday morning saw NACWA partner with the Water Environment Federation (WEF) to sponsor the Utility Leaders’ Morning designed to help utility executives and managers network with each other and discuss common utility challenges. A key focus of the event was on water workforce issues, with LaToya Cantrell, the Mayor of New Orleans, and Keisha Lance Bottoms, the Mayor of Atlanta, discussing the innovative approaches their cities are taking to address water workforce challenges.
David Ross also provided remarks on the most critical water issues facing the Agency and requested input from the clean water sector. The program then wrapped up with a recognition of the most recent Utility of the Future Today honorees.
NACWA thanks WEF for the opportunity to participate in WEFTEC and partner on the Utility Leaders’ Morning event. NACWA also thanks all of our members that helped make WEFTEC a success!