Can Water and Electric Utilities Create Resilient, Integrated, Futures?

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waterwheelPart of the reason behind the current muddled state of affairs at the heart of the water and energy nexus is that each of those industries has been charting their own independent path forward, and have ended up in isolated “silos” that don’t often collaborate.

But the path to a resilient future might be found through collaboration and integration, according to a new report from The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.

“We have learned that new ideas emerge when we bring together experts with different experiences and perspectives. As we move toward more resilient and sustainable service delivery, the traditional lines between electric, water supply and wastewater utilities begin to blur. This report addresses the challenges and opportunities facing utility providers and promotes the efforts of the water and energy sectors to innovate and increase efficiency.” – Lynn Broaddus, Director of the Environment Program at The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread

The new report came about through an August meeting at the Johnson Foundation of a group of thought leaders and stakeholders, at which they discussed methods for fostering more collaboration among the wastewater, water, and electricity sectors, in order to “develop mutually reinforcing solutions to resource management.”

One of the key findings that struck me was that coming up with better solutions doesn’t have to be a sacrifice for businesses, and in fact can create opportunities, which not only strengthen the bottom line, but also make the resulting industries more resilient.

In order to achieve more sustainable, resilient and cost-effective freshwater systems, the report recommends new approaches for stronger coordination between the water and electric utilities sectors, including:

  • Stimulate cross-sector communication
  • Partner on education and outreach
  • Engage in collaborative planning
  • Reduce disincentives and risks
  • Identify regulatory constraints and opportunities

Find out more about the work being done to foster new solutions to U.S. freshwater challenges, and get your copy of the report at Charting New Waters: Building Resilient Utilities: How Water and Electric Utilities Can Co-Create Their Futures (PDF)

[Image: Peter-Ashley]

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