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National priorities outlined in the speech support the organizations' efforts to improve the economy & adapt to climate change
In his State of the Union address President Obama focused on the role of infrastructure to a healthy economy and identified climate change and resiliency as national priorities, all of which pave the way for a renewed focus on the value of water and water infrastructure, according to the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the National Assn. of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).
WEF and NACWA are heartened by the President’s emphasis on economic recovery and climate change. Water considerations are essential to progress in both areas, and the organizations are encouraged by the potential to advance and improve the nation’s water programs. As seen in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, clean and safe water infrastructure is now squarely a key component of any national effort to address the impacts of climate change and ensure the resiliency of our communities going forward.
The recently released Water Resources Utility of the Future…Blueprint for Action coauthored by WEF, NACWA, and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) calls for a Utility of the Future that recovers valuable resources from the treatment process, and is a partner in local economic development and a member of the watershed community seeking to deliver maximum environmental benefits at the least cost to the ratepayer.
Fully supportive of the transition to clean, renewable energy and climate change-related initiatives, the Utility of the Future reclaims and reuses water, extracts and finds commercial uses for nutrients, captures waste heat and latent energy in biosolids and liquid streams, generates renewable energy and uses green infrastructure to manage storm water. WEF and NACWA also share a position on climate change that underscores the clear need to create sustainable, resilient water facilities that can meet and withstand the impacts of extreme wet weather events.
Beyond the challenges of climate change and renewable energy, rebuilding America’s aging water infrastructure would be a well-suited component of the President’s “Fix It First” program, proposed during the speech, to put Americans to work on the most urgent repairs.
Both in terms of jobs created and public health protection, water infrastructure repair cannot be overlooked as the nation moves to rebuild its economy. Additionally, the President’s focus on manufacturing, innovation and jobs translates to the need to drive innovative solutions in water to create jobs and ensure a sustainable environment.
WEF and NACWA look forward to working with the President and Congress to help rebuild the economy and create a better, safer and more resilient America through sound investment in, and innovative approaches to, national water programs.