Now in its second year, the Urban Waters Delegation grew from fourteen to twenty-three members, and now includes Delegates representing organizations from Boston, the Carolinas, DC, the Great Lakes Region, Houston, Kansas City, New Orleans, Newark, and New Orleans.
Since the Delegation was founded in 2018, members have 1) worked to develop a strategy for engaging water utilities and elevate their roles as community partners and stewards; 2) engaged in targeted coalition building, community engagement, environmental justice trainings, and resilience building; and 3) directly addressed environmental issues in the cities where they work.
In 2019, Delegates met in Austin, TX to attend One Water Summit 2019. The Summit, hosted annually by the U.S. Water Alliance, provides a space where people from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines can work together toward a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to water. The workshops and events were hosted and attended by agriculturalists, farmers, scientists, representatives from municipal utilities and county, state, and federal agencies, non-profit workers, artists, lawyers, and people on the front lines — including activists, community workers, and water defenders.
Urban Waters Delegates attended a variety of workshops and field trips, covering a range of topics including the role of water management in building climate resilience; workforce development; approaches to decentralized and community-based systems for water management; making human connections to water more visible through storytelling; how to overcome a “crisis culture” in which agencies are constantly are constantly responding to, instead of preparing for, disaster; and how to apply a systems perspective toward developing a long-term, holistic approach to water management that successfully accounts for non-economic benefits to both people and the environment.
In the coming year and beyond, the Delegation has committed to 1) pursue innovative collaborations with diverse partners, including utilities and academic institutions; and 2) develop new learning opportunities where participants may explore how to put the best models into practice.