The U.S. Water Alliance has released a report on the “Water Equity Taskforce: Insights for the Water Sector,” featuring the lessons and achievements from Atlanta, Buffalo, Camden, Cleveland, Louisville, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh. This report discusses the foundations for building cross-sector partnerships, presents key insights for a collaborative approach to water equity, and dives deeper into the ways each of the seven cities pushed programs and policies to advance equitable outcomes and tangible benefits for both utilities and the communities they serve. The full report is available online here.
Low-income and communities of color bear a disproportionate share of water stress and share less in the benefits water systems can provide. Addressing these disparities is difficult. While closer relationships between water and wastewater utility professionals and these groups can be mutually beneficial, those most impacted by water stress—whether too much, too expensive, too little, or poor quality—are not typically represented at tables where decisions about how to manage water are being made.
The Alliance established the Water Equity Taskforce in 2018 to accelerate the development and adoption of equitable water policies and practices. The Water Equity Taskforce was the first-ever cross-sector, multi-city endeavor to intentionally make water management outcomes and processes equitable. “No longer can utilities do this alone or think they know what is best. That old-school way of thinking is not going to get us where we need to be. Partnerships bring a diverse amount of perspectives, diverse ways of looking at things. We need to not only be part of this conversation; we need to be leaders in it,” stated Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, CEO, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and U.S. Water Alliance Board Member.
This report details how local utility leaders worked with community partners to tackle inequities embedded in water systems across the country. From the launch of a new water affordability program in Buffalo, to a new workforce development plan in Milwaukee, it is clear that partnerships between the water sector and communities can become standard practice across the nation. To learn more, read the report, as well as the blog post written by U.S. Water Alliance Senior Fellow, Andy Kricun.
Source: U.S. Water Alliance