The Water Environment Federation has developed a series of clean water policy and position statements to guide the critical work WEF provides in clean water policy.

The statements provide the public and clean water professionals with an understanding of how WEF approaches the work of ensuring the availability of clean water. Existing statements are regularly reviewed and updated through the leadership of the Government Affairs Committee, and new statements are developed as new topics arise in the clean water sector. WEF members contribute to the development and updating of these documents through collaborative efforts between various technical committees and the Government Affairs Committee.

Related Pages

Legislative and Regulatory Affairs
Water Advocates
Water Week

WEF members and staff are currently working to update and develop several position statements, which will be posted as soon as they are approved by the WEF Board of Trustees.  If you have any questions about  Policy and Postion statements, please email Amy Kathman at

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Position Statement Approved by the WEF Board of Trustees: July 12, 2019


In 2015, the United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Development Agenda titled “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” as a call to action for all countries to work towards peace and prosperity for people and the planet. This agenda outlined 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to thematic areas such as water, energy, and climate; with associated targets and indicators.

SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation, features targets for water reuse, access, affordability, resiliency, integrated water resources management, reduction in untreated wastewater, and enhanced research and development for water technologies; each of which water professionals around the world contribute to every day.  The work of water professionals also directly impacts most of the other SDGs including SDG 2 - Zero Hunger; SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being;  SDG 5 – Gender Equality; SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy; SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities; SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production; SDG 13 - Climate Action; SDG 14 - Life below Water; and SDG 15 - Life on the Land.

Alignment With WEF’s Mission and Critical Objectives

Since 1928, WEF and its members have protected public health and the environment.  WEF's mission, programs, and activities support the objectives of the SDGs, aligning with many, in particular SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation.


WEF supports the objectives of the UN SDGs and recognizes the work that its members, member associations, and the water sector as a whole contribute to furthering progress towards these goals globally. WEF’s programs and activities advance progress toward these goals by:

  • Establishing the conditions that promote accelerated development and implementation of innovative technologies and approaches. This includes fostering research and innovation, accelerating resource recovery, and cultivating the water workforce of the future.
  • Generating increased public awareness of the value of water, water professionals, and resource recovery, leading to increased funding to protect water quality and advance resource recovery.
  • Providing a broad range of content and programing, as well as opportunities for water professionals to learn and share information.
  • Leveraging a global network of water professionals

WEF will continue to foster progress towards achievement of the SDGs by:

  • Increasing water sector and public awareness of the SDGs and their importance, as well as of the work that water professionals are doing to further progress towards achievement of these goals.
  • Seeking opportunities to build upon the work currently being done and to collaborate with our member associations and partners around the world to advance progress towards achievement of the SDGs in the spirit of SDG 17 - Partnership for the Goals.


Position Statement Approved by the WEF Board of Trustees: March 27, 2019

WEF will advocate and promote the following priorities for the effective and efficient management of stormwater runoff in the built environment:

Read 'Stormwater Runoff in the United States Built Environment Position Statement'

WEF Environmental Policy Statement

The Water Environment Federation is committed to fulfilling its mission to preserve and enhance the global water environment by reducing the environmental effects of its activities and helping others in the water sector to do the same. Members, volunteer leaders, partner organizations, and other associations in the water sector look to the federation as a leader that often serves as a model for others.

Water Quality

Policy Statement: Approved October 22, 1997 by the Board of Trustees

Protecting the world's surface water and ground water is essential for public health, wide diversity of biological communities, and quality of life. Water use must meet our present needs while ensuring the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Such sustainable usage of water, which is fundamental to prosperity and progress, requires protection of all natural resources from activities perilous to water quality. As water quality protection programs succeed in many parts of the world, global water quality is challenged by population growth, urbanization, industrial and commercial activities, agricultural practices, and other aspects of modern life.

The Water Environment Federation is committed to providing leadership and guidance in efforts to enhance and preserve the world water environment. The Water Environment Federation commitment to improving water quality based on sound principles of science, technology, and policy is summarized in the following points.

Watershed Planning and Management

The Water Environment Federation supports the watershed approach of protecting and restoring water quality. The watershed approach stems from the knowledge that all ecosystems are linked together. Watershed management is a method of decision making to protect and sustain all natural resources - uplands, wetlands, surface water, and ground water - affecting water quality within common, hydrologically defined geographic areas. The approach includes all citizens of a watershed in establishing priorities and developing plans for water protection in that region. Local government agencies, businesses, and residents in a watershed should participate in setting regional environmental priorities, aiming for the highest practicable degree of water quality improvement. Inclusion of concerned parties in a successful watershed program demands comprehensive public education on protecting and enhancing watersheds.

Priority Setting

The Water Environment Federation supports a priority setting process allowing governments and watershed managers enhanced flexibility in scheduling and standard-setting within the context of economic, technical, and social capabilities. A priority setting framework must support water quality managers in using appropriate data and tools, promoting inclusive resource protection, conducting economic and risk analyses, considering cross-media impacts, and accounting for regional growth. Water quality priorities and solutions must be established regionally to best address water quality impairment from local and outside sources. The general public should collaborate in priority setting with engineers, scientists, and other experts to ensure long-term support for and implementation of water quality programs. Priorities should be set to expand water recycling and to protect natural resources.

Improving Water Quality Through Sound Science

The Water Environment Federation supports the use of sound scientific information in all programs dedicated to solving complex water quality issues. The benefits of water quality protection are maximized when all components of such initiatives have a sound scientific basis and a clear rationale. New water resource efforts and restructured water quality initiatives should be supported by the most comprehensive and current scientific information and assessments. Goals, standards, and strategies should be evaluated regularly to incorporate the most recent scientific information and analyses. Scientific knowledge should be used to protect the environment and to develop a sustainable balance of natural resources. Water quality protection efforts must promote problem resolution and enhance pollution prevention.


The Water Environment Federation supports development and dissemination of both basic and applied research on water issues through financial assistance, program aid, practical field demonstrations, and publication of peer-reviewed research. Research is the foundation of scientific and technical knowledge on water quality and the global environment. New and expanded research efforts are essential to our understanding of water resources and of human stresses on them, to technological innovation, and to development of new cost-effective approaches to enhance water quality. Reliable data is necessary to meet the global demand for high-quality water. The results of research should be employed by all parties involved in water quality protection.

Financing to Meet Water Quality Needs

The Water Environment Federation supports equitable distribution of clean water costs among all parties benefiting from the resource, financial assistance for clean water programs, partnerships between government and the private sector, and government funding of water quality programs as a duty to all citizens. Financing methods should be innovative and free of burdensome regulation or onerous administrative requirements. Adequate funding for both watershed management and infrastructure rehabilitation and replacement is vital for sustained water quality. All elements of clean water efforts receiving funding must be sustainable and responsive to citizens and to the environment.

Effective Management and Infrastructure Sustainability

The Water Environment Federation supports effective management of facilities protecting water quality. The keys to good management and sustainable infrastructure include programs to further improve the skills of water quality professionals; funding for infrastructure improvements and for regulatory compliance and enforcement; pollution prevention; responsible management of residuals; public participation in decision making; and proper planning, construction and maintenance of water quality facilities to maximize long term efficiency and ensure water quality protection. Community and industrial water quality facilities also should consider adopting voluntary management standards to protect all water resources. The mission of the world water quality professionals is to provide the highest quality water while acting as a partner with and good neighbor to the public.

Water Reuse


Traditional water supplies in many parts of the world are becoming inadequate to sustainably meet the needs of communities. Population growth, development, droughts, over-drafting of groundwater, and climate change are straining water resources and altering the way communities plan for future demands and uses of water. There is a clear need to more effectively use water resources to provide reliable, high-quality, and affordable potable supplies to communities. Where limited water supplies are increasingly inadequate.

Read WEF's Water Reuse Position Statement

More WEF Advocacy Programs

WEF pursues many different advocacy and outreach through several programs aimed at various audiences. Explore these opportunties via the links below.