More than 30 leaders from clean water utilities across EPA Region 4 gathered in Tampa, FL on February 6 to discuss challenges facing their utilities, provide input to NACWA’s national advocacy priorities and network with peers. The meeting, held in conjunction with the Association’s Winter Conference (see related article), provided an opportunity for the utilities to share information on current initiatives they are implementing in their communities, and to hear from others in the Region that may be dealing with similar utility-related and public affairs issues.
Among the top concerns discussed were affordability, lack of sufficient funding for need infrastructure investment, challenges around resiliency including reuse, and wet weather management. Concern over an aging workforce and difficulty recruiting new operators and staff to help run utilities was also a common dilemma. There was broad consensus among the utility leaders that addressing affordability concerns would involve more than just raising local rates, but would also necessitate additional federal funding. NACWA discussed the Association’s current efforts to develop a federal funding program to help low-income households with clean water costs, and there was wide agreement that such an approach would be very helpful.
NACWA regularly holds regional meetings across the country to provide an opportunity for better discussion of how state/regional issues should influence the Association’s national advocacy. If you are interested in hosting such a meeting in your region, please contact Erica Spitzig.