White House Announces Public-Private Innovation Strategy to Build a Sustainable Water Future

The White House has announced a new public-private water innovation strategy which includes an aggressive two-part approach led by Federal agencies to address the impacts of climate change on the use and supply of our nation’s water resources. The strategy calls on the private sector and other stakeholder groups to help significantly scale up research and investment in water efficiency solutions.

The new water innovation strategy calls for:

-Increased use of water-efficient and reuse technologies. By continuing to support efforts by businesses, industries, and communities to make efficient use of water, and through better management practices and technology, water usage could be reduced by 33 percent.

-Promotion and investment in breakthrough research and development (R&D). High costs currently prohibit most communities from turning non-traditional water sources like seawater or brackish water into fresh water. Through new ambitious technical targets for cost-competitive new supplies of water from nontraditional sources, the White House says “pipe parity” could be reached, meaning new water supply technology costs would be equal to the cost of the current processes for delivering fresh water.

In a news release, the Obama Administration announced plans to take several steps to kick-start this strategy, including:

-Release a report that lays out the water innovation strategy in greater detail and proposes ideas and options for addressing this challenge in the decades ahead.

-Call for commitments from private sector and stakeholder groups to advance innovation and technology for potential solutions to water issues so that sufficient water is available when and where it is needed. On March 22, 2016, the United Nation’s World Water Day, representatives from Federal, State, regional, local, and Tribal governments will come together with the private sector and other stakeholder groups at the White House to discuss ways in which the public-private water innovation strategy is making progress. For more information on this event, and to submit your input and examples of progress and responses to this call to action, click here.

-Launch a new Center for Natural Resources Investment (Center) at the Department of the Interior to promote increased private investment in water infrastructure and facilitate locally-led water exchange agreements in the western United States. Robust, inter-connected infrastructure and functional market institutions, like water banks, can increase the resilience of water supplies and enable and drive additional investment in conservation technologies. The Center is the third Federal financing center launched as part of the President’s Build America Investment Initiative.

-Announce a new funding opportunity for over $20 million in water and energy efficiency grants through the WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grant Program at the Department of the Interior. Funding will be awarded for projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, benefit endangered and threatened species, facilitate water markets, carry out activities to address climate-related impacts on water, or prevent any water-related crisis or conflict.