| AWWA launches Water 2050 initiative to prepare for sustainable water future
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AWWA launches Water 2050 initiative to prepare for sustainable water future

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) today announced its landmark Water 2050 initiative, a collaborative exploration to envision the future of water and chart a course for water community success and sustainability.

“Water 2050 will prepare us for the future of water -- how water is managed, protected, collected, treated, distributed, used, and returned to the environment,” said AWWA President Chi Ho Sham. “The outside-the-box, longer term view, cross-discipline thinking and work we envision here will make the water community a better steward of the world’s most vital resource in a proactive and resilient way."

Water 2050The multi-year initiative is anchored in five intimate think tanks at which both young and more experienced thought leaders examine the future of water through the prisms of sustainability, technology, economics, governance, and social/demographics. Recommendations flowing from each facilitated think tank will serve as calls to action for AWWA, its sections and the wider water community. In addition, AWWA members will engage in Water 2050 discussions and provide input at AWWA events over the next two years.

Water 2050 will be a hot topic at AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE22), June 12-16 in San Antonio, Texas, with a keynote panel discussion on the initiative and a Water 2050 exhibit in the AWWA Pavilion. A video titled “The Future We Create” and featuring AWWA Young Professionals’ thoughts on the future is in development and will be presented during the conference and throughout the initiative. 

“With so many challenges and opportunities on the horizon, this is certainly the right moment to take a longer strategic view of the future and engage with bold, innovative thinkers,” said AWWA President-Elect Joe Jacangelo. “We cannot know exactly how the world will look in 2050, but if we think critically and collaboratively with others, we can develop a more perspicuous understanding of how to prepare for it.”

The first Water 2050 think tank is Sept. 21-23 at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, where 20-25 thought leaders will explore issues related to the sustainability driver. The gathering will be facilitated by Strategies with Rox.

A select Advisory Team is guiding the Water 2050 event design and providing guidance. The Advisory Team includes Andy Richardson, Chairman Emeritus at Greeley and Hansen and AWWA past president; Sue McCormick, former Great Lakes Water Authority CEO; and Jennifer Sara, Global Director for the World Bank Group's Water Global Practice. 

AWWA’s Board of Directors and six advisory councils planted the first seeds for Water 2050 during a Council Summit discussion in Denver in October 2021. During that gathering, they identified several critical drivers that would influence the future of water and the work of water professionals.

“Water 2050 will significantly influence how AWWA builds member value and engages the water community in the years ahead,” said AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “It will also be a foundation for collaboration with new and existing partners who will help us understand the challenges before us.

“Collaboration is the key,” LaFrance added. “Water 2050 will only be successful if there is engagement from many partners and forward-looking experts from within and outside the water profession.” 

More information about the initiative is available on AWWA's Water 2050 resource page.