2023 Year in Review US Water Alliance

The US Water Alliance—along with the whole water sector—hit the ground running in 2023. Increased federal support for water has created a transformational opportunity to enhance water investment on a scale never before feasible.

Along with the expansion and evolution of water policies and programs made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are proud to see the One Water movement permeate more deeply throughout the water sector and beyond—a feat made possible by the fantastic network of members, partners, and supporters we are fortunate to partner with day in and day out.

Thanks to our collective work this year, we're forging progress towards a sustainable, equitable water future. We are excited to share this year’s key achievements in our 2023 Year in Review!

We convened One Water Summit 2023 in Tucson, Arizona

In our signature event this fall, hosted for the first time in a desert setting, nearly 1,000 participants from 46 states gathered to learn from one another, share best practices, and build connections in support of our collective One Water future.

The Summit 2023 programming featured 143 speakers, 20 workshops, nine site visits, six co-conveners, five learning labs, five arts installations and live music performances, four plenaries, and a fireside chat between US Water Alliance CEO Mami Hara and former US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox. Additionally, during the closing ceremony, 18 commitments to action were made by our wide array of delegations.

We are so proud to gather such a diverse, cross-sector group of water enthusiasts in this space. We extend our gratitude to everyone who made this year’s Summit a success!

We conducted the first-ever State of the One Water Field survey

Developed with support from our One Water Council, this survey was the first nationwide assessment to evaluate what’s working in the One Water movement, identify barriers to success, and understand what’s needed to make One Water the mainstream water management approach in the United States.

The results of this foundational survey, which indicated that One Water is in the pre-awareness stage yet has a strong presence nationwide, will help us track the One Water movement and collectively strategize for the widespread adoption and normalization of integrated, inclusive, equitable, and sustainable water management.

We advanced water affordability through the release of A Promising Water Pricing Model for Equity and Financial Resilience

In partnership with Stantec, Greater Cincinnati Water Works, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we modeled a cost-based approach to pricing water—shifting some utility costs from usage-based rates to a charge based on property characteristics correlated with increased infrastructure and service costs. This groundbreaking report presents an opportunity to achieve greater equity by reducing water bills for most low-income households while preserving revenue and improving financial resilience for water utilities.

We stepped into our role as a national Environmental Finance Center

Through this designation, we and our stellar team, which includes a wide range of service providers, offer technical assistance to communities that have historically been underserved, helping them access federal funds for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure improvements.

We have initiated technical assistance efforts with 15 communities across the country. In addition, we partner with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of New Mexico to provide technical assistance in EPA Regions 4 (Southeast) and 6 (South Central).

We grew our Water Equity Network

This year, we welcomed 10 new communities into our growing Water Equity Network: Cedar Rapids, IA; Charlotte, NC; Chesapeake Region, VA; Columbus, OH; Des Moines, IA; Johnson County, KS; Twin Cities, MN; Richmond, VA; Tucson, AZ; and Wilmington, NC. Our growing national community of practice now includes 44 city teams spread across the country.

In the fall, the whole Water Equity Network gathered and engaged in interactive sessions and panels at our second in-person All-Network Convening, deepening cross-sector connections at the local and national levels.

The Water Equity Network strengthened regional connections

For the first time, we held five in-person regional gatherings of the Water Equity Network in New Orleans, LA; Houston, TX; Alexandria, VA; Philadelphia, PA; and Chicago, IL.

Over 146 members gathered for multi-day convenings to build relationships, explore shared water challenges and priorities, and build community. Some of their takeaways are shared below.

Our Value of Water Campaign shared the results of its yearly Index

The eighth annual Value of Water poll surveyed over 1,000 American voters and revealed that ensuring a reliable supply of water remains a top concern for voters, approval of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to be broad and strong, and that voters would pay more to ensure clean, safe, and more affordable water services for their communities.

We broadened our role as a US leader in the global water sector net-zero push

In conjunction with COP28 and the international push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we announced our selection by The Water Research Foundation to spearhead a groundbreaking project to help water utilities measure their climate impact and communicate progress toward achieving net-zero targets.

We celebrated the eight US Water Prize 2023 winners at this year’s One Water Summit

We applauded the accomplishments of Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District, Rainplan, DigDeep’s Colonias Water Project, Corvias Infrastructure Solutions and Prince George’s County, MD: The Clean Water Partnership, Pittsburgh City Councilperson Erika Strassburger, Rob Woodman, waterloop, and Maritza Alvarez. The work of these outstanding organizations and individuals is driving sustainable, integrated, and inclusive solutions to our nation’s water challenges.

We honored recipients of Delaware State University’s Global Water Challenge

This prestigious competition highlights pioneering projects and ideas aimed at addressing urgent water-related issues. As the only nationally designated EFC with a formalized partnership with an HBCU, this collaboration will be the first of many in an effort to broaden the pool of talent who find belonging in the water workforce and celebrate their contributions to the sector.

We championed four foundational digital solutions for small, rural, and Tribal communities.

In our Advancing Water Equity in Small and Rural Communities: The Role of Digital Solutions report, we identified four solutions and priorities for the significant number of small and rural communities nationwide that are precariously on the verge of losing access to safe, reliable water.

We joined a partnership for advancing lead service line replacement

This partnership with the federal government, states, Tribes, local communities, nongovernmental organizations, water utilities, labor unions, and private companies will accelerate the implementation of health-informed and justice-centered approaches in lead service line replacement across the US—improving both our economy and public health.

Our Value of Water Campaign held its ninth annual Imagine a Day Without Water

Nearly six million people engaged with and were reached in this National Day of Action to communicate how water is essential, invaluable, and in need of investment, focusing in particular on advocating for continued, sustainable water infrastructure investment in communities that have lacked adequate resources for far too long.

Activations included art and essay contests, utility tours, a variety of in-person events, and a national radio tour featuring Value of Water Campaign Director Christy Harowski.

We launched our new US Water Alliance website

Our refreshed US Water Alliance website centers around the communities of practice we gather, how our network is addressing the key issues the water sector currently faces, and a library of Alliance resources for anyone to use to leverage sustainable and equitable water practices, programs, and policies.

We participated in United for Infrastructure’s signature event: Infrastructure Works—Where We Are and the Road Ahead

US Water Alliance CEO Mami Hara spoke alongside some of our nation’s top water sector and infrastructure leaders including representatives from the Biden administration, Congressional leaders, mayors, CEOs, labor leaders, and policy advocates to uplift infrastructure investments in communities nationwide and showcase the jobs and opportunities they create.

We introduced our second Mentoring Connections Cohort

Through this program, established Changemakers in the water sector work directly with Rising Professionals to help them develop their leadership capacities and drive meaningful progress in their organizations.

We continued the movement to center water workforce and affordability at the national level

We joined the Water Agency Leaders Alliance, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and US Environmental Protection Agency leaders to discuss pressing water workforce and permanent national water assistance program needs.

We built out our Strategic Framework that will guide our work from 2024 – 2027

Our team, Board of Directors, One Water Council, key allies, funders, and partners spent the last year developing this framework, which outlines the fundamentals that will guide us for the next three years while allowing room for emergence. We look forward to sharing this in early 2024!

We welcomed incredible new members to the US Water Alliance team

We welcomed new members to the US Water Alliance network

Thank you to our key partners who supported our work in 2023

As we look back on 2023, we reflect on a year of tremendous growth and change. While this is an especially opportune time for water, the moments the Alliance team and our dedicated network are striving to meet must be stretched beyond moments—past the confines of a calendar year toward systemic change. One Water continues to propel our work forward, and we thank everyone who is making this journey with us.

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The US Water Alliance is a member-supported national nonprofit that aligns diverse stakeholders to develop common-ground and transformational solutions to our nation’s most pressing water challenges. We educate the nation on the true value of water and engage an expanding base of One Water champions, initiate new approaches and solutions to our most pressing water challenges, accelerate the adoption and scaling of the mindset, practices, and policies behind the One Water approach to advance a better quality of life for all, and celebrate what works to advance the One Water movement and solutions to inspire and spread innovation in water system transformation. Our nearly 200 members and partners include utilities, public agencies, community organizations, engineering and technology firms, environmental groups, agricultural interests, labor unions, researchers, artists and culture bearers, and many others. Learn more at www.uswateralliance.org.