People and Policy

The people and policy component of LIFT informs local, state, and federal policies and regulations by identifying barriers to innovation and developing actions to overcome them. WEF and WERF are working closely with U.S. EPA, NACWA, ACWA, WWEMA, and other agencies to bring together regulators, technology providers, and facility owners under the people and policy program to help implement appropriate policies and regulations to foster innovation. The U.S. EPA Blueprint for Integrating Technology Innovation into the National Water Program includes a working list of actions that the Office of Water will pursue, including supporting the LIFT program. 

Utility of the Future

In early 2013, WERF, WEF, and NACWA jointly released the Water Resources Utility of the Future (UOTF), a blueprint for action for transforming the way traditional wastewater utilities view themselves and manage their operations. Many publicly owned treatment works have mastered their core wastewater treatment function and are now redefining themselves as resource recovery agencies and vital community enterprises. The report notes that technology innovation is a driving force for achieving the UOTF. Report recommendations most closely related to innovation and new technology development, testing, and implementation will be targeted for action as part of the LIFT people and policy program. The Water Resources Utility of the Future 2015 Annual Report provides an update on the water sector’s efforts to transform treatment into full resource recovery that includes sustainable, cost-effective management options.

Water Sector Groups Launch Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program (4/21/2016)

Utility of the Future Today Program FAQs


Nutrient Roadmap

The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, WEF, and the Environmental Defense Fund convened a facilitated dialogue with about 30 stakeholders representing diverse interests (e.g. utilities, academia, environmental groups, associations, consultants) to “Craft a Vision for Nutrient Management in Wastewater Treatment”. The aspirational goal is that “the next generation of wastewater treatment has net zero impact with regards to energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and nutrient discharge by 2040.” This discussion will provide the foundation for development of a Nutrient Roadmap.

Creating the Space to Innovate

WEF and WERF are planning a series of invited policy and regulatory dialogues in 2015 on “Creating the Space to Innovate.” These dialogues will build on and advance innovation-related recommendations from the UOTF and the Nutrient Roadmap. The dialogues will provide opportunities to examine new policy and regulatory solutions and frameworks to allow and encourage innovation.

Utility R&D Metrics

The types of organizational structures, funding mechanisms, and staffing approaches that public agencies use to conduct R&D, advance innovation, and test new technologies are being explored through a utility R&D metrics study. Preliminary data and results from the study were shared at the LIFT meeting at WEFTEC 2013, along with case study example presentations from representatives at LACSD, NYCDEP, and MWRDGC.