Report Explores Resiliency of Water, Electric Utilities

Nov. 21, 2013
Thought leaders explore opportunities for solutions to maximize resource efficiency

Technological innovations and enhanced energy efficiency offer opportunities for utilities to significantly reduce or eliminate their net energy use while also achieving greater nutrient recovery and more efficient use of water itself, according to a Charting New Waters report released by The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.

"Building Resilient Utilities: How Water and Electric Utilities Can Co-Create Their Futures," is the product of a meeting convened by The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, which brought together a group of experts to discuss ways to foster collaboration among the water, wastewater and electric power sectors to develop mutually reinforcing solutions to resource management.

“We have learned that new ideas emerge when we bring together experts with different experiences and perspectives,” said Lynn Broaddus, director of the Environment Program at The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread. “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.”

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 power sectors, including:

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

Alongside the report, The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread invited four participants to contribute additional thoughts to its new online dialogue, Inspiring Solutions– an online forum to convene, share ideas, and find innovative solutions with sustained impact. Participants were asked to dive deeper into the “water-energy nexus.” Inspiring Solutions features responses from Steve Fleischli, Water Program Director & Senior Attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council; Mike Hightower, Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories; Andy Kricun, P.E., BCEE, Executive Director/Chief Engineer, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority; and Chris Peot, P.E., BCEE, Civil/Environmental Engineer, Director of Resource Recovery, DC Water.

The dialogue and report are part of Charting New Waters, a Johnson Foundation at Wingspread initiative bringing together experts to examine freshwater challenges, successes, innovations and potential solutions that can bridge geographies and inform national policy. Formally launched by the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread in 2010, Charting New Waters is the work of a diverse group of leaders from business, agriculture, academia and environmental organizations that have publicly committed to improving U.S. freshwater resources by advancing the principles and recommendations of the group. Download the report here.

Source: The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread