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What would your day be like if you turned on the tap or flushed the toilet, and nothing happened? While many take water for granted, plenty of Americans live with this this grim reality every day.

Imagine a Day Without Water, hosted by the US Water Alliance Value of Water Campaign, is a national education campaign that brings together diverse stakeholders to spotlight how essential, invaluable, and in need of investment water is. It calls on all to pause and make the way water systems impact our lives and communities, and commit to ensuring a sustainable water future for future generations.

Over the past two years, the campaign has developed a free toolkit of high-quality communications assets for organizations to use, created a communications bootcamp to train communications staff about how to more effectively talk about the value of water, and coordinated and hosted high-impact events to raise the profile of water, including Infrastructure Week in May and Imagine a Day Without Water in the fall.

Thousands of agencies have participated in Imagine a Day Without Water in prior years. Some of the highlights from last year’s programming included the state proclamations and city and council resolutions made, media features, virtual events hosted by organizations, a link to watch the Imagine a Day Without Water 2020 National Forum, and much more.

This year, the 7th annual Imagine a Day Without Water – set for October 21st – will dive deeper into the impact drinking water and wastewater providers have within communities nationwide. It will include events, resolutions, student contests, social media engagement, and more, all across the country.

We encourage all our member agencies to participate! If your agency already has plans underway, we invite you to please share them with us. We’d like to highlight your efforts and contributions to this occasion.

Your agency can participate in small (ex: post on social media) or larger (ex: formal public event with government officials attending) ways. If you’d like to join but aren’t sure where to start, check out this page for a list of ideas. You can sign up to participate here. To learn more about the occasion and past participation, click here.

If you’ve already signed up or plan to sign up, please email Anna Radev (anna@giexchange.org) to tell us how you’re joining the cause and we’ll tell your story to others within and beyond the Exchange. We hope to see you planning an event, sharing on social media, partnering with public officials, or using other creative ways to spotlight water challenges in your region and highlight why all should value water. 

 

Last week, the City of Grand Rapids celebrated the grand reopening of Roberto Clemente Park, originally opened in 1911. The park underwent significant upgrades and renovations, including implementation of innovative, daylighted stormwater infrastructure meant to protect the Grand River and Lake Michigan. Among these infrastructure upgrades were: 

  • New green infrastructure, including bioswales and rain gardens
  • Native meadow plantings that naturalize much of the passive areas, filter pollutants and help reduce stormwater runoff
  • Educational signage throughout the park that teach visitors about the impact of stormwater on the environment

The project actively aimed to further equity and inclusion by engaging a wide variety of community groups and institutions, including Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Southwest Community Campus and Cesar Chavez Elementary, Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, Disability Advocates of Kent County, Friends of Grands Rapids Parks and the Puerto Rican Cultural Committee of West Michigan. Other renovations included a new outdoor discovery area featuring a play area and seating for students; universally accessible concrete pathways to connect park amenities and new energy efficient lighting; new picnic shelter and all gender restroom buildings; new furnishings including bike racks, benches, picnic tables, domino tables, grills, drinking fountain and trash bins; and other upgrades that help foster  more equitable access community-wide. 

The project was funded by a $242,500 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund, $951,500 from the city’s 2013 parks millage, and $300,000 from the city’s Environmental Services Department.

For more details, read the full article here.

 

 

The Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange has added 9 more new individual members in the past couple of months, bringing the total to 50 new individual members and 2 new member agencies thus far in 2021. We’re so thrilled to welcome them in our network and eager to get them connected with peers that can address their questions and bring value to the agencies’ efforts.  

The two new organizations who’ve joined in 2021 so far are the City of Columbus, the City of Pittsburgh, and the Mid-America Regional Council.

The 50 individual members – both from the new member agencies and from already existing member agencies – are below:

Buffalo Sewer Authority

  • Sydney Collins

City / County Association of Governments of San Mateo County

  • Reid Bogert

City of Alexandria

  • Derek Claytor

City of Columbus

  • Tiffany Conn
  • Scott Sibley

City of Gresham

  • Katie Holzer
  • Keri Handaly

City of Houston

  • Adam Eaton
  • Alberto Moreno
  • Johana Clark
  • Victoria Davis

City of Kitchener

  • Monica Mazur

City of Lancaster

  • Kate Austin

City of Ottawa

  • Karine Bertrand

City of Philadelphia

  • Alan Fody
  • Alfred Walfall
  • Connie Bird
  • Jenny Sawyer
  • Lindsay Reul
  • Maureen McQuilkin
  • Michael Romankiewicz
  • Travis Stables

City of Palo Alto

  • Chris Fujimoto

City of Pittsburgh

  • Kara Smith
  • Martina Battistone

City of Portland

  • Anthony Martin
  • Kris Hikari
  • Nishant Parulekar
  • Shannon Axtell

City of Raleigh

  • Sally Hoyt
  • Kevin Boyer
  • Ben Brown

City of Seattle

  • Greg Stevens
  • Julia Brasch
  • Mary Weber
  • Masako Lo
  • Reed Blanchard

City of Tucson

  • Blue Baldwin

City of Vancouver

  • David Uyesugi
  • Eva Li
  • Gord Tycho
  • Nick Mead Fox
  • Shekar Sharma

District of Columbia DOEE

  • Arielle Conti
  • Erica Carlsson

Fairfax County

  • Eric Caldwell

Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati

  • Marisa Eckhoff

Mid-America Regional Council

  • Tom Jacobs

Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans

  • Grace Vogel
  • Bryant Dixon

 

 

Exchange Member Meet & Greet on September 23rd – Come One, Come All!


If you have not yet had a chance to connect with these folks, reach out and say hello! Or you can join us at our upcoming Member Meet & Greet on Thursday, September 23rd, 2-3pm ET / 11am-12pm PT. Whether you’re a new member or not, this will be an opportunity to connect with other members and get the scoop on how to make the most of our programming and resources. Please email Amelia (amelia@giexchange.org) if you would like to attend. 

 

NEW MEMBERS: Make Sure to Register
an Individual Account on Our Website!

If you’re a new member and you have not yet had a chance to register a user account on our website, please reach out to Amelia (amelia@giexchange.org) to do so. Having an individual profile and log-in credentials on the site gives you access to private pages and information about our work and member activities that are only available to users who are logged in. 

Feel free to reach out to Amelia with any other questions related to your membership and getting involved in the network’s work.

A growing body of research has documented that FEMA often helps white disaster victims and communities more than people and communities of color, even when the amounts of damage are the same. Leaders at FEMA have acknowledged the disparity and are tackling the complex issue of why these disparities exist and how they can be resolved. 

Research so far suggests that the scale of the problem is immense. A recent study of 5 million records found that the higher the percentage of Black residents living in a specific ZIP code, the less likely applications there were to result in an inspection and even among those who did, 11% of requests were denied without reason, while only 4% were denied in white neighborhoods without reason. Further, when homeowners in Black did have their application approved, they were awarded less money on average than applicants in white areas. This was also the case for counties with a significant Black, Hispanic or Native American population compared to counties with mostly white residents.

Racial disparities are also present in FEMA’s program that purchases and then demolishes damaged homes, as FEMA appears to disproportionately demolishing homes in communities of color.

The problem seems to stem from complex systemic factors, such as real estate values on properties in communities with many white residents vs communities with black residents and the complex nature of navigating the FEMA bureaucracy, which appears to favor people and communities that have more resources from the onset. Regardless, the impact of these disparities is long-lasting. For instance, white people in counties with significant disaster damage that received FEMA help experienced a 5-fold increase in personal wealth, while Black residents lost wealth, according to recent research. Further, the disparity is occurring as climate change triggers more frequent and destructive storms, wildfires and other natural disasters, putting marginalized communities at a further disadvantage, as they’re most vulnerable to damage and less able to recover from it. This reinforces the cycle of marginalization.

As racial justice is a key focus of the Biden Administration, the extensive documentation around these discrepancies presents a unique opportunity to tackle this problem at the federal level by seeking out ways to reform a core pillar of a system that appears to favor whites while further marginalizing communities of color in disaster relief.

You can read the full article here.

The US Water Alliance is hosting a webinar on building the water workforce on August 26th at 1pm ET. Building the workforce creates multiple benefits for utilities and communities alike. There is a high retirement rate in the water sector coupled with a growing shortage of water workers. Without planning ahead to recruit and groom the next generation of water workers, utilities will fall short of ensuring the same quality of service in the future. To address this challenge, utilities can invest in their communities and build a more inclusive water workforce through targeted workforce development programs that build the ranks of water professionals more fully and equitably. 

In this webinar, One Water leaders will discuss how workforce challenges can be addressed through community engagement and professional development programs. The webinar features representatives from Philadelphia Water Department and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD), who will share their experiences in promoting workforce development, including Philadelphia Water Department’s PowerCorps PHL program and NEORSD’s Good Neighbor Ambassadors program. All registrants will also receive a recording of the session afterwards. 

To learn more or register, click here.

Our heartfelt gratitude to our funders for their support of our mission, which makes our work possible.