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Water Resources Utility of the Future
For more than a decade now, clean water utilities have been working to advance the ideals of the Water Resources Utility of the Future (UOTF). Going beyond simple compliance with all applicable laws and requirements, the UOTF concept is defined by clean water utility leaders pioneering innovative technologies and cutting-edge practices to recover resources, improve operational efficiency and sustainability, and provide value to their ratepayers beyond the clean water they produce every day.
NACWA remains committed to making sure that the wide array of UOTF issues – including energy production, resource recovery, water reuse, green infrastructure, watershed-based approaches and other related or emerging issues – are embraced by federal policymakers and key stakeholders. While UOTF was launched as a distinct initiative in 2013, the concept is now woven into NACWA’s Strategic Plan and all of its advocacy efforts. NACWA will continue to work with Congress, EPA and other key federal agencies to ensure barriers to broader adoption of the concepts and practices embodied by UOTF are addressed, and that incentives and funding for implementation are explored.
A Brief History of UOTF
In 2013, NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the Water Environment & Research Foundation (WE&RF) – now part of the Water Research Foundation (WRF), released the publication, Water Resources Utility of the Future…A Blueprint for Action, to capture the groundbreaking transformation that was occurring at clean water utilities as they progressed beyond simple compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Consistent with its role as the nation’s recognized leader in clean water advocacy, NACWA quickly followed the release of the Blueprint for Action with the Water Resources Utility of the Future…A Call for Federal Action. This document outlined ten priority actions that Congress and the Federal Government could take to help realize the vision of the Utility of the Future.
NACWA, WEF, WE&RF, and subsequently WateReuse, released the Water Resources Utility of the Future Annual Report in 2015. In lieu of additional annual reports, the group created the Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program.
- Current, Emerging, and Potential Technologies in the Clean Water Space… Opportunities for the 21st Century Utility, (July 2022)
- In 2022, NACWA partnered with Isle Utilities to publish Current, Emerging, and Potential Technologies in the Clean Water Space… Opportunities for the 21st Century Utility to explore water sector challenges best poised to be addressed through technologies, many of which have already been vetted. The document spotlights current and emerging technology areas where, with more resources, clean water utility goals could more efficiently and effectively be met.
- Envisioning the Digital Utility of the Future, 2017
- Digital Utility of the Future Case Studies
- Water Resources Utility of the Future Annual Report, 2015
- Today's Clean Water Utility: Delivering Value to Ratepayers, Communities, & the Nation, 2014
- Water Resources Utility of the Future… Blueprint for Action, 2013
- Water Resources Utility of the Future… A Call for Federal Action, 2013
The Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program
To showcase work in the UOTF space and encourage more utilities to engage, NACWA, WEF, WRF and WateReuse — with input from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — established the Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program.
The annual recognition program seeks to:
- Identify and promote those utilities that are building on a foundation of excellence in management, and
- Help small, medium, and large utilities transform their operations over time by implementing the innovative UOTF business model.
Lists of the utility recipients from each year are available on the UOTF website and provide an invaluable resource of UOTF best practices.