The application period is open for the Utility of the Future Today recognition programme, which seeks to honour water resource recovery facilities for community engagement, watershed stewardship and recovery of resources such as water, energy and nutrients.
This year’s application has been revised to encourage utilities serving as anchor institutions in their communities, with a focus on people both within the utility and the community, and the inclusion of diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of the utility’s operations.
The Utility of the Future Today concept is being promoted as water systems transform operations through innovation and technology. The Utility of the Future is a model for utilities of all sizes to achieve more efficient operations, enhanced productivity and long-term sustainability. Since the programme launched in 2016, almost 200 utilities have been recognised with the honour.
The Utility of the Future activity areas focus on:
- Recovery and new uses of a range of resources;
- Engagement as a leader in the full water cycle and broader social, economic and environmental sustainability of the community;
- Engagement in the community and formation of partnerships necessary for success when operating outside of the traditional span of the utility; and
- Transformation of the internal utility culture in support of these innovations.
Public and private water sector utilities of all sizes that can demonstrate achievement of the application requirements are encouraged to apply by 20 May 2022. Honourees will be notified during the summer and formally recognised during an awards ceremony at the Water Environment Federations’ Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) 2022 this October in New Orleans, the US.
Since the Utility of the Future concept was introduced in 2013, many utilities have implemented new and creative programmes to address local wastewater technical and community challenges. The recognition programme was launched by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), The Water Research Foundation (WRF), and the WateReuse Association. In addition, the programme is supported by advisory partners, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Energy (DOE).