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🗣️ "The Future of One Water — Climate, Equity & Recovering Stronger"

Talking Under Water

Photo by David Becker / Unsplash

Host: Bob Crossen
Guest: Renée Willette | Vice President of Programs & Strategy | US Water Alliance
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[7:37] “At the US Water Alliance, we've really been focusing […] our core areas around water equity. […] Also, the COVID recovery that we're starting to emerge out of has been a huge focus for us. We've been partnering with policymakers across the country to look at how […] the water sector [is] recovering from COVID in a stronger way. How are we ensuring that we can provide 24/7 operations, while still investing in our system, and really using this moment to transform the sector? Another area that we're really excited about […] is our climate program built out. […] What we've seen over the last 12 months has been insane, with severe weather, with the drought, with floods. [We are] thinking about how […] we coalesce as a water sector, and start to break down some silos and work together around not only climate resiliency, but climate mitigation, too.”

[10:26] “I think that issues of racial injustice and racial equity have always been present in our sector, and across the country. I think the moment […] of self reflection that was forced upon every single individual and organization after George Floyd's murder, […] just took things to another level. And what we've been seeing is a definite expansion of the water equity network. We are on pace to hit 75 cities across the country, who are actively looking at their utility with their community partners. How can they have equitable water management practices in their community? And that interest is just growing and growing.”

[11:06] “We're also seeing internal reflection with both utilities and organizations or nonprofits, engineering firms. Everyone in the water sector is doing some internal reflection about how's my organization meeting this moment? And how are we addressing racial justice? And some of the work we're doing at the Alliance around that is actually we're working on creating an internal facing DEI, diversity, equity inclusion toolkit that our members can use to do some internal assessments, to […] baseline where they're at, create some goals for their internal organization, and then strategically move towards those goals.”

[11:47] “I don't think you can really understate the importance of water equity. And it's related to climate. […] The water access, the drought we saw, severe storms in the south this past year, that left millions of people without drinking water, and disproportionately impacted communities of color and low income communities. So […] at the Alliance, we really believe that water equity is aligned and connected with every other aspect of the One Water movement. You really can't have a One Water movement without water equity.

[14:34] “Both, how we view water resources, how we view water management is very much regional dependent and local dependent. So the narrative and issues that are being faced in the West are very different than the East. […] We really seek to have a very unified and simple message that can […] connect with people across the country, which is water is the backbone of our communities. Without investing in water, we will crumble as a nation. Every city, every town, every rural community needs safe, reliable water and wastewater services.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 29 min | 🗓️ 10/22/2021
✅ Time saved: 27 min