New Report Explores Resiliency of Water and Electric Utilities

Thought leaders explore opportunities for transformational solutions to maximize resource efficiency.

Technological innovations and enhanced energy efficiency offer opportunities for utilities to significantly reduce or eliminate their net energy use while achieving greater nutrient recovery and more efficient use of water itself, according to a Charting New Waters report released by The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.

Building Resilient Utilities: How Water and Electric Utilities Can Co-Create Their Futures is the product of a meeting convened by The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, which brought together a group of experts to discuss ways to foster collaboration among the water, wastewater and electric power sectors to develop mutually reinforcing solutions to resource management.

“We have learned that new ideas emerge when we bring together experts with different experiences and perspectives,” said Lynn Broaddus, director of the environment program at The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread. “As we move toward more resilient and sustainable service delivery, the traditional lines between electric, water supply and wastewater utilities begin to blur. This report addresses the challenges and opportunities facing utility providers and promotes the efforts of the water and energy sectors to innovate and increase efficiency.”

In order to achieve more sustainable, resilient and cost-effective freshwater systems, the report recommends new approaches for stronger coordination between the water and electric power sectors, including:

• stimulate cross-sector communication,

• partner on education and outreach,

• engage in collaborative planning,

• reduce disincentives and risks, and

• identify regulatory constraints and opportunities.

Alongside the report, The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread invited four participants to contribute additional thoughts to its new online dialogue, Inspiring Solutions – an online forum to convene, share ideas, and find innovative solutions with sustained impact. Participants were asked to dive deeper into the “water-energy nexus.”