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Scioto River, downtown Columbus, Ohio

Foster enjoying his swimmable water!

Water: Safe, Swimmable, Fishable, Affordable, Sustainable

Monica Mosure

February 20, 2013

Water. It’s an often overlooked utility that has become a hot topic of discussion for public consumers, businesses, and municipal leaders. With the changing landscape of water use and reuse, many municipalities find themselves having to juggle new technologies, water/wastewater management and operation policies, sustainable infrastructure, and a changing legislative climate.


To assist municipalities address these issues, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environmental Research Foundation (WERF), and the Water Environmental Foundation (WEF) have released Water Resources Utility of the Future … Blueprint for Action. The Blueprint for Action report provides insights and recommendations for setting environmental priorities for better water management, with the goal of ensuring that US communities have safe drinking water and swimmable and fishable water at an affordable and sustainable cost.


he report details communities around the nation that have implemented innovative wastewater plant solutions such as advanced instrumental controls, renewable energy use, methane-fueled turbines, and anaerobic digester processing. These communities have saved money, reduced carbon emissions, and in some cases even generated revenue.


One of the most interesting aspects of the report is its discussion on leveraging green infrastructure within communities. In one noted case for the New York Green Infrastructure Plan, New York predicts that “every fully vegetated acre of green infrastructure would provide total annual benefits of $8,522 in reduced energy demand, $166 in reduced CO2 emissions, a $1,044 in improved air quality, and $4,725 in increases property value.”


The report also outlines possible funding sources for “Utility of the Future” initiatives. These include:

  • Environmental Protection Agency: Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving funds, as well a Green Infrastructure Program that provides technical assistance to communities pursing green infrastructure solutions.
  • US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation: Title XVI 25% matching grants up to $20 million to design and construct demonstration and permanent water reclamation and reuse facilities in western states.
  • US Department of Energy and State Energy Programs: Grants to certain municipalities/states to implement energy efficient projects and programs, or in certain circumstances to establish revolving loan funds to finance projects.


The report provides far more information that we can detail here, so if you are involved with clean water, drinking water, energy, agriculture, and policy-making, take a moment to click the link and read it. The insights you gain will be well worth your time!