February 16, 2016 | Water in the West | Insights
On December 15, the White House convened nearly 100 water experts from across the nation for a “Roundtable on Water Innovation” to discuss solutions to repair and upgrade the nation’s aging water infrastructure. Participants from the federal government, academic institutions, the private sector and more discussed 21st century challenges that the water sector faces - such as a lack of innovation, inadequate funding for water projects and water pricing issues - as well as potential solutions.
Administration officials Ali Zaidi, Dr. John Holdren and Secretary Sally Jewel opened the panel with the announcement of the launch of a new water conservation strategy for the nation. The strategy aims to address climate change impacts on the use and supply of our nation’s water resources and calls on stakeholders from the private sector and more to help scale up research and investment in water efficiency solutions.
Newsha Ajami, Director of Urban Water Policy at Water in the West, spoke on a mid-morning panel on using technology as a solution to the nation’s water problems, along with Heiner Markhoff, President and CEO of GE Power and Water, Manoj Bhargava, Founder of Stage 2 Innovations and Dean Amhaua, President of the Water Council. On the panel, Ajami discussed how we can use lessons from energy sector to fund water projects, and emphasized the need to focus on not just technological innovation but also innovation in water governance and management to address 21st century water challenges.
“This was one of the only high-profile efforts that a recent president has had on water,” Ajami said. “The roundtable brought critical issues to light that our water sector is facing, like the lack of funding and the innovation deficit. It’s great that the administration is paying attention to these issues and wants to influence water management and water innovation in the long term.”
The White House continued its work promoting water innovation in February with the Obama administration's unprecedented inclusion of $267 million dedicated to water innovation in the proposed federal budget. Additionally, on March 22, 2016, the White House is hosting a water summit in conjunction with World Water Day to raise awareness of water issues and solutions in the U.S., and to promote action for a sustainable water future through innovative science and technology.