Water Equity Network

Water is a force for equity and opportunity. Water utilities are anchor institutions for their communities: they safeguard public health, protect the environment, and create economic opportunity. But no one entity can solve the water challenges facing vulnerable communities—affordability, water quality concerns, flooding, and more. Cross-sector collaboration among utilities, community organizations, environmental groups, and other local stakeholders is key to building thriving, equitable water systems and communities.

The Water Equity Network aligns the resources and capacities of an array of stakeholders to advance equitable water management. The Network offers trainings, facilitation, resources, and peer exchange to help water utilities and cross-sector teams from across the country develop strategies to build an equitable water future. Network organizations and teams receive coaching and support to guide them through identifying local water equity challenges and developing policies and initiatives in response.

Read our network principles here.

Why join the Water Equity Network?

Joining the Water Equity Network is an opportunity to build trusting relationships with diverse partners and other communities facing equity challenges, collaborate on planning and project implementation, and workshop challenges with knowledgeable peers. Network organizations and teams also receive tools, resources, and strategic guidance from the US Water Alliance.

Who can join?

City Teams
To build more durable water equity solutions, the Alliance encourages network organizations to form and join as cross-sector Water Equity Teams anchored by local water and wastewater utilities with representatives from organizations serving vulnerable communities, environmental groups, and philanthropy.

Associate Organizations 
Individual water and wastewater utilities may join the Water Equity Network. Organizations dedicate staff to participating and for advancing water equity in their organization’s operations and community. This opportunity is free to members of the US Water Alliance.

What you can expect

  • Orientation Resources. Network organizations and teams will receive an onboarding packet with information about the network and associated resources.
  • Jumpstart Support. US Water Alliance staff will provide support and facilitation to help your organization assess equity challenges and potential opportunities, introduce principles for collaboration, and map out priorities and goals. If desired, Alliance staff can support network organizations to assemble a cross-sector team.
  • Office Hours. US Water Alliance staff and leaders from other Network Teams will consult with teams on specific water equity challenges they are facing.
  • Knowledge Building and Peer Exchange. The Network will offer institutes, bootcamps, and forums focused on priority water equity topics. These forums will include racial equity trainings.
  • Network Events. The Network will hold a network-wide event alongside the US Water Alliance’s One Water Summit and host regional meet-ups at other national and regional conferences. 
  • Matchmaking and Mentoring. Alliance staff will assist in connecting network teams and organizations to “sister” teams for mentorship and peer exchange based on similar challenges and opportunities. These connections may lead to regional convenings or site visits. Members will have the opportunity to mentor newer cities.
  • Staying Connected. Members will receive exclusive communication about water equity news, opportunities, and webinars focused on specific water equity topics from the US Water Alliance featuring experts and leaders in the space.

To discuss joining the Water Equity Network, contact Emily Simonson, Senior Manager, Strategy and Special Projects, US Water Alliance: esimonson@uswateralliance.org.

Precursors to the Water Equity Network

In 2017, the Alliance released An Equitable Water Future, a definitive report on the water challenges facing vulnerable communities and the opportunities to leverage water investment to create social, economic, and environmental benefits for all people.

Our direct work on water equity began with the Water Equity Taskforce, a group of cross-sector teams from seven cities working to implement equitable water management practices. The Taskforce cities—Atlanta, Buffalo, Camden, Cleveland, Louisville, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh—forged trusting partnerships among local stakeholders and across cities. They have launched new programs to make water services affordable and accessible, to promote dialogue and understanding, and to create economic opportunities for all.

Building on the foundation established by the Taskforce cities, the Alliance now seeks to expand the reach of this work to sector-wide and make equitable approaches to water management commonplace across the nation.