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April 6, 2010

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NAWC On the Move

NAWC Celebrates World Water Day with Chinese Young Leaders








On March 24, a dozen young professionals from China visited the National Association of Water Companies in Washington, D.C., to converse about how the private water industry serves millions of Americans in the United States. Partially funded by the State Department, the group is part of the Water Here and There International Fellows program backed by the Association for International Practical Training (AIPT), which provides an international exchange for professionals looking to enhance international research partnerships and global project management skills.

This visit was among a series of lectures and seminars the group is attending across the country during their three weeks of research on U.S. water policies; next was a visit to State College, Pa., to speak with the producers of the NAWC co-sponsored documentary, Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure.

“For all the public health merits quality water and sanitation represent, it’s still very much a political issue in this country,” said Jessica Knight, NAWC director of strategic relations, as she presented an overview of NAWC’s membership and spoke about the goals of the industry. The group showed particular interest in the differences and similarities of public and privately run water utilities.

“We know our systems inside-and-out and we’ve shown time and time again we’re ready to make the investments necessary to deliver quality water service,” Knight said in explaining how NAWC members respond to their communities’ specific infrastructure needs.

AIPT Vice President of Program Development Dan Ewert explained that a corresponding group of young American water leaders would be visiting China this summer with the same objective as their Chinese counterparts: to experience project management and policy creation from a different perspective. At the completion of the exchange, both groups will meet to discuss their findings and collaborate on an educational plan that addresses one issue facing the water industry in both countries.

For more information, click here.

Summit Explores Solutions for Problems Caused by Water Scarcity

It takes 15,000 liters of water to make a hamburger. That’s one of the many facts experts used to convey global water consumption and the issue of water scarcity at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Water Strategy Summit on March 18.

Held in Washington, D.C., this half-day summit brought together a wide array of corporate executives from companies such as IBM, General Electric and Nike with water industry experts like American Water and Global Water Challenge to share observations of a report titled, Charting Our Water Future, embarked on by the 2030 Water Resources Group, which was managed by McKinsey and fiscally underwritten by the World Bank.

As the group’s name alludes, the premise behind their efforts is to devise working solutions to lessen the constraints on water, our most valuable resource, by 2030. Attendees were handed a copy of the 180-page research report, which projected that by 2030, the need for water globally will be 40 percent greater than the supply; that number is bumped up to 50 percent for those living in developing countries.

The report warns that unless officials can prompt policies to increase productivity and augment supply, there is little indication that, left to its own devices, the water sector will come to a sustainable, cost-effective solution to meet the growing water requirements implied by economic and population growth.

Since the summit endeavored to focus on highlighting solutions, not just bemoaning problems, the experts, government agencies and water company executives sitting around the table took turns vocalizing their ideas, including Don Correll, president and CEO of American Water, Jon Freedman, global government relations leader for General Electric, and EPA Assistant Administrator of Water Peter S. Silva.

Dr. Giulio Boccaletti, a principal at U.K.-based McKinsey and Company, led the research presented and reminded the group that one of the big problems is that water is seen as a cost, not as an investment. “Water is tied to so many other things, and it becomes tractable when it’s viewed as a problem of economic development,” said Boccaletti.

Paul Yarossi, president of HNTB Holdings, was one of the last speakers to present, saying, “It would be good if we could have a coordinated effort on infrastructure,” adding that the issues are similar for transportation. “I wish there was a way it could all come together,” he concluded.