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February 26, 2015

The Water Haller: ASSOCIATION COOPERATION – Many promising signs

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I often joke about the ‘sea of associations’ for our industry or the ‘alphabet soup’ of water and wastewater associations. There are literally hundreds of associations dedicated to each aspect of our industry. CWWA itself tries to focus on the municipal utility sector serving municipal members and the private sector and academia that support that municipal sector – others might focus on watersheds or groundwater, just research or just equipment. There is a reason for each association to have its own focus on its own unique elements, but there are many topics we share and many times we might be stronger together. I have been noticing more and more positive signs of such cooperation.

We can often see AWWA and WEF as two very separate monoliths with separate memberships and separate events, but we have all been witnessing signs of their cooperative relationship. I just came back from a very well-attended Utility Management Conference in Austin, Texas cohosted by both WEF and AWWA. They recognize that many of the issues affecting the senior utility leaders are common to both water and wastewater – or more often fall under the same senior manager. Issues such as infrastructure renewal, financing, asset management, staffing and training, and public communications are common to both sections of the same industry.

We have seen WEF and AWWA (and several others) cooperating on the Value of Water Coalition to affect public attitudes.  These associations also work cooperatively on legislative items in Washington. Then, just last month, we received news of the efforts to merge both of their research wings, WERF and WRF. 

Here in Canada, we have seen most of the provincial/regional associations serving as both AWWA sections and WEF member associations. CWWA works to represent WEF and AWWA members in Canada at the federal level in Canada. We have just completed a national survey and roundtable on public attitudes that will support the Value of Water Coalition. We are also part of the Canadian Affairs Committees for both AWWA and WEF. These committees bring us all together to share information and contribute to national level projects. I am proud to announce that, together, we will be launching a new national project on infrastructure issues that will be steered by reps from the two Canadian Affairs Committees.  

Meanwhile, we continue to work with other national associations such as the Canadian Association for Water Quality, the Canadian Municipal Water Efficiency Network, Canadian Asset Management Network and more. This spirit of cooperation is also leading our event philosophy here at CWWA as we consolidate our many specialized events into one, national, annual conference.


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