Working Together to Build a Sustainable Water Future

Author: 
Hannah Safford, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
March 22, 2016

Summary: Today, as part of World Water Day, the White House is hosting a Water Summit to catalyze ideas and actions to build a sustainable water future in the United States.


This article was originally written on the White House Blog for World Water Day. UC Water was included the Call to Action for our work on water-accounting and groundwater management. 

Water challenges are facing communities and regions across the United States, impacting millions of lives and costing billions of dollars in damages. These challenges are particularly problematic in predominantly poor, minority, or rural communities, where water inequality can go hand-in-hand with socioeconomic inequality. Recent events, including record-breaking drought in the West, severe flooding in the Southeast, and the water-quality crisis in Flint, MI, have elevated a national dialogue on the state of our Nation’s water resources and infrastructure. This dialogue is increasingly important as a growing population and changing climate continue to exacerbate water challenges. Accordingly, we must work together to build a sustainable water future—one in which everyone has access to the safe, clean, and affordable water they need, when and where they need it.

That’s why today, as part of World Water Day, the White House is hosting a Water Summit to shine a spotlight on the importance of cross-cutting, creative solutions to solving the water problems of today, as well as to highlight the innovative strategies that will catalyze change in how we use, conserve, protect, and think about water in the years to come.

In addition, following the White House’s call to action issued in December, more than 150 external institutions are joining the Federal government in announcing new efforts and commitments to enhance the sustainability of water in the United States by managing our water resources and infrastructure for the long term. These efforts and commitments include needed steps to accelerate development, demonstration, and deployment of innovative technologies; support critical research; enhance data collection, access, and usability; conserve water and water basins; raise public awareness; and deliver tools and technologies so that we can ensure that future generations have access to safe and reliable water resources.

Click here to learn more about all of the commitments and announcements being made today. They include:

  • Nearly $4 billion in private capital committed to investment in a broad range of water-infrastructure projects nationwide. This includes $1.5 billion from Ultra Capital to finance decentralized and scalable water-management solutions, and $500 million from Sustainable Water to develop water reclamation and reuse systems.
  • More than $1 billion from the private sector over the next decade to conduct research and development into new technologies. This includes $500 million from GE to fuel innovation, expertise, and global capabilities in advanced water, wastewater, and reuse technologies.
  • Presidential Memorandum and supporting Action Plan on building national capabilities for long-term drought resilience in the United States, including by setting drought resilience policy goals, directing specific drought resilience activities to be completed by the end of the year, and permanently establishing the National Drought Resilience Partnership as an interagency task force responsible for coordinating drought-resilience, response, and recovery efforts.
  • Nearly $35 million this year in Federal grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support cutting-edge water science;
  • The release of a new National Water Model that will dramatically enhance the Nation’s river-forecasting capabilities by delivering forecasts for approximately 2.7 million locations, up from 4,000 locations today (a 700-fold increase in forecast density).

We encourage you to tune into the live stream of the White House Water Summit from 9:00 AM  12:30 PM EDT, and to participate virtually using the hashtags #WHWaterSummit and #WorldWaterDay.

Moving forward, the Administration will continue to carefully examine and take action in areas where further effort is needed to protect our Nation’s water resources and build a sustainable water future.