By InfrastructureUSA

December 2, 2015

Radhika Fox is the CEO of the U.S. Water Alliance, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to uniting people and policy for water sustainability. Radhika also serves as Director of the Value of Water Coalition, a collaboration of water agencies, business leaders, and national organizations dedicated to educating and inspiring people about how water is essential, invaluable, and needs investment. Radhika has over 20 years of experience in developing policies, programs, and issue-based advocacy campaigns. Radhika previously directed the policy and government affairs agenda for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is responsible for providing 24/7 water, wastewater, and municipal power services to 2.6 million Bay Area residents.  She also served as the Federal Policy Director at Policy Link, where she coordinated the organization’s policy agenda on a wide range of issues, including infrastructure investment, transportation, sustainable communities, economic inclusion, and workforce development.

The Crisis Beneath Our Feet

Water is really largely out of sight, out of mind, but a water main breaks every two minutes in this country…What’s interesting is that water and sewer lines are thirty times the length of the interstate highway system, and so this is massive, massive infrastructure, and most of our water infrastructure wastewater infrastructure was built fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, and it’s been running around the clock, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Water Is a Thread Through Our Economy

It takes, for example, 2900 gallons of water to make a single pair of blue jeans, or 880 gallons to make one gallon of milk. And so water is in everything that we eat, it’s in everything we wear, it’s in all of our devices. We need clean water in order to have all the goods and services that we have in our lives. So what we’re really doing through the Value of Water Coalition is making that argument to people that water is essential.

Investing in the Water of the Future

All around the country you see, for example, wastewater agencies that are rebuilding their wastewater treatment plants but are doing it in a way where they’re generating energy, or they’re recovering phosphorous and other key minerals that are important for agricultural uses…I think the challenge is how do we take that and scale it up…what are the types of public-private partnerships that we need that can help us accelerate these investments, how do we have a stronger federal partner. 

Successful Citizen Engagement: Imagine a Day Without Water

The Value of Water Coalition convened something called Imagine a Day Without Water…And what we found was when you offered an opportunity for people to engage, they loved it…Infrastructure as a term can be very abstract and through storytelling, through art, through citizen dialogue, get people to connect to the infrastructure that fuels their daily lives and the lives of their children. 

We Care About What We Understand

…my 8-year-old daughter, she knows where her water comes from. She says, “Mommy, my water comes from Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park” and she is the biggest environmental water conservationist as an 8-year old, because she knows where her water comes from. She understands the value of it and that’s how we get to changing the water mindset and the infrastructure mindset in this country is by starting with young folks…

U.S. Water Alliance: Changing The Way We See Water

The U.S. Water Alliance is focused on driving a paradigm shift in the way that the nation views, values, and manages water…The U.S. Water Alliance is focused on bringing together all the different interests that matter for a clean water future—so water providers, the corporate community, environmental leaders, the agricultural community—to work together to drive greater investment in water infrastructure and drive new solutions and innovations around water-resource management. 

Listen to the full interview from Infrastructure USA.