Utility of the Future

Concept

uotf-logo

Today’s clean water agencies are looking beyond the traditional operational models based on the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA), and are considering innovations that preserve best practices, while incorporating sustainable principles, which ultimately benefit their communities and improve their financial situations.

The “Utility of the Future (UOTF)” concept is defined by clean water utility leaders pioneering innovative technologies and cutting-edge practices, with a focus on resource recovery, efficiency and sustainability.

NACWA is committed to making sure that the wide array of UOTF issues – whether they be related to energy production, water reuse, green infrastructure, watershed-based approaches and other related or emerging issues - are definite priorities with Congress, the Presidential Administration and key stakeholders.

History

In 2013, NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the Water Environment & Research Foundation (WE&RF), released the Water Resources Utility of the Future…A Blueprint for Action  to capture the groundbreaking transformation that was occurring at wastewater utilities as they progressed beyond simple compliance with the Clean Water Act.  Increasingly, clean water agencies had been embracing and implementing innovative approaches and technologies—related to energy production, water reuse, green infrastructure, non-traditional partnerships and more—in order to improve sustainability and environmental impact, while lowering operational costs, increasing revenue and helping boost the local economy. This foundational trend continues today. The emergent “triple-bottom-line” approach is at the heart of the Utility of the Future initiative, and is today spreading rapidly among utilities of all sizes throughout the country.

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 outlines ten priority actions that Congress and the Federal Government can take to help realize the vision of the Water Resources Utility of the Future.

Since the release of the Blueprint for Action and the Call for Federal Action, many developments—major and incremental—have come to pass within the UOTF landscape. To document these changes, NACWA, WEF, WE&RF, and recently joined by WaterReuse, started releasing the Water Resources Utility of the Future Annual Report beginning in September 2015. The Annual Report marked the beginning of a sustained effort to inform and inspire the clean water community about the ever-expanding opportunities inherent in the study and implementation of the Utility of the Future concept.

The Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program

As interest in UOTF expanded from its early stages, many utilities have successfully implemented new and creative programs addressing local wastewater technical and community challenges, as they explore their roles as Utilities of the Future. To showcase this important work, four water sector organizations — NACWA, WEF, WE&RF and WateReuse — with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), established the “Utility of the Future Today” recognition program.

The annual recognition program seeks to: (1) identify and promote those utilities that are building on a foundation of excellence in management, and (2) help small, medium, and large utilities transform their operations over time by implementing the innovative UOTF business model.

Utilities that receive recognition are featured in a compendium of honorees.  This compendium is an invaluable resource of UOTF best practices.

Resources

Water Resources Utility of the Future… Blueprint for Action, 2013

Water Resources Utility of the Future… A Call for Federal Action, 2013

Today's Clean Water Utility: Delivering Value to Ratepayers, Communities, & the Nation, 2014

Water Resources Utility of the Future Annual Report, 2015

Utility of the Future Today Compendium, 2016

Helpful Links

Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program