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Equity Taskforces Plan a More Equitable Water Future for All

Deilia Jackson Darby and Zoe Roller, US Water Alliance | December 18, 2018

In November, the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management and community groups like the Partnership for Southern Equity hosted Alliance staff and other Taskforce cities. Outside, the air was unusually crisp for late Fall in the South. Indoors, the Learning Exchange began with key accomplishments of each city project.

Atlanta, with the home team advantage, shared their focus on equitable economic inclusion. The team aims to identify strategies for infrastructure development that also prevent displacement, support marginalized communities, and ensure the policies of the utility are "community-driven and community-empowering."

In Cleveland, the team discussed the increasing public awareness of water affordability and quality. In 2019 they plan to hold community listening sessions to gain a better understanding of perceptions and needs in relation to water systems.

The Buffalo group noted that the city’s biggest concerns are the affordability challenges facing vulnerable communities. The team has focused on launching an affordable water program alongside the Buffalo Water Board’s new rate structure. The program aims to makes rates affordable to all while making necessary investments in the city’s aging infrastructure. In 2019, the team will focus on equitable community engagement strategies.

The Milwaukee team announced that they are working to identify equitable workforce development strategies and the barriers to water sector employment among vulnerable communities. The team has gathered information through engaging community members and water sector leaders. In 2019 the group will focus on connecting communities to workforce training and career pathways.

Camden highlighted three issues related to equitable water management in the city - water quality awareness, workforce development, and climate resilience.  In each instance, the team is crafting a framework to address the issue and dialogue with the larger community.

Louisville closed the session by detailing how the team's focus on water equity could move the city forward and increase equitable economic opportunities among vulnerable populations, like veterans and the formerly incarcerated.

Each team accomplished a significant amount research and planning over the past year, and the Water Equity team at the Alliance is excited to see what each city can achieve in the year to come. 

To continue following the work of the Water Equity Taskforce, visit us for updates in Spring 2019 to learn about the Buffalo Learning Exchange.