Last week I had the honor of representing the Water Environment Federation at the World Water Week hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). During the week the Stockholm Water Prize was presented by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden to the International Water Management Institute. This was the twenty-second year this prestigious prize has been awarded. I was so proud that previous leaders of WEF had deemed it worthy to help found this recognition of outstanding water-related achievements.
The theme of the week was water and food security, and those of us who work water are well aware of the increasing demand for clean water given the needs of our world’s growing population. But what dawned on me, a kind of ‘aha’ moment, was that for our well being as members of the human race plus creatures great and small, there is an essential water nexus.
WEF’s partners and allies around the world, including SIWI and many others, are diligent warriors in presenting the latest science and leadership to solve the complex issue of water around the globe. Likewise many of our domestic partners are applying their resources to that end. Yet a mere 45 days away is the U.S. presidential election and the opportunity to focus on clean water management, arguably one of our nation’s most important domestic policy programs. We stand at a crossroads.
Our rivers, streams, and estuaries are cleaner, and much has been accomplished since the Clean Water Act was passed 40 years ago. But have we solved the problem regarding our availability of clean water in the years ahead? Our technology has been largely focused on ways to keep water clean, but we need technology that moves past cleaning our water bodies to new methods of water management—methods resulting in reuse, resource recovery, and energy independence.
In another 40 years, I hope we can look back and celebrate the idea that our communities effectively harnessed the resources of this planet and made waters ever cleaner and available to all--and did so through methods that lowered costs and created a better quality of life for everyone in the process.