Circular Water Economy

Leading the way for public and private sectors to optimize and recover valuable resources from water and wastewater in ways that fight climate change, support equitable economic development, and ensure water services for all.

In today's world, where managing resources sustainably is essential, the concept of the Circular Water Economy (CWE) offers a practical and efficient solution. CWE focuses on recycling and reclaiming resources in our water systems, aiming to provide maximum benefits for communities, the environment, and businesses.

This approach is not just about being resourceful; it's a critical step in combating climate change, promoting fair economic opportunities, and ensuring reliable water services for everyone.

'Circular Water Economy' Defined



What is 'Circular Water Economy?'

A circular water economy (CWE) recycles and recovers resources within the water use and treatment cycle to maximize value for people, nature, and businesses.

The circular water economy exists when the public and private sectors optimize and recover valuable resources from water and wastewater in ways that fight climate change, support equitable economic development, and ensure water services for all. Circular water economy practices keep products and materials in use, regenerate natural systems, and design out waste and pollution. This model helps build a just and sustainable society and ensures it for the future.

WEF CWE Task Force

A CWE approach requires expanding the traditional scope of projects and planning to capture the needs and input of stakeholders from throughout the water sector and beyond.

In 2023, WEF assembled a 24-person Circular Water Economy task force that defined the WEF meaning of CWE and established a framework for WEF to lead the implementation of circular economy in the water sector. The aim is to continue and evolve established programs as well as initiate new programs that will advance CWE principals.

Co-Chair: Erika Bailey, Raleigh Water Co-Chair: Mark Jockers, Clean Water Services
Morgan Brown, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Olaf van der Kolk, Aqua Minerals
Qingshi Tu, University of British Columbia Ifetayo Venner, Arcadis
Vanessa Borkowski, Stantec Dana Gonzalez, Hampton Roads Sanitation District
Katy Lackey, PolicyLink Allen Townsend, World Wildlife Fund
Paul Kadota, Metro Vancouver Megan Schneider, Accenture
Aimeé Killeen, Providence Heather Jennings, Bio Hume Netics Inc.
Sarah Guzman, Black and Veatch Debora Coy, XPV Water Partners
Kevin Shafer, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Haley Falconer, City of Boise, Idaho
Matt Magruder Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Samantha Villegas, Raftelis
Jonathan Liberzon, Tomorrow Water Kurt Carson, Grand Junction
Corey Williams, Smartcover Systems

Circular Water Economy Summit 2024

Join us in Dallas, Texas, to continue the transformation to the circular water economy. Attend to hear solutions to industrial water challenges, explore the opportunities for developing circular water systems, and learn to commercialize the products that result from it.

Attend the Summit

Circular Water Economy News

The latest biosolids articles, videos, and other content from throughout the organization and across the water sector.

Climate Change
WEFTEC Earns Gold Sustainability Certification

WEFTEC has proudly earned the Events Industry Council (EIC) Sustainable Event Standards Gold Certification, marking a significant achievement in sustainable event ...

Continue Reading
Climate Change
Reclaiming Resources in the Second City

Since 2016, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has operated the world’s largest nutrient recovery facility at the Stickney Water ...

Continue Reading
Xylem in the WEFTEC Live Studio

Dive into the future of water solutions with Xylem's COO, Matthew Pine. Pine visited the WEFTEC Live Studio to talk about Xylem's latest developments, including the ...

Continue Reading
State and Future of the Circular Water Economy

Hear from Caroline Samberger, Principal Process Engineer at Stantec Ltd and an esteemed voice in the field of circular water economy (CWE).

Continue Reading
Meet the 2023-2024 WEF President

2023-2024 WEF President Aimeé Killeen discussed what’s on the horizon for WEF over the next year in the WEFTEC Live Studio.

Continue Reading
Industrial Water Resources
Trickle to Treasure: Appreciating the Economic Power of Water

Author Charles Fishman, author of the 2011 book, The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, visited the WEFTEC Live Studio to share his ...

Continue Reading

Join or Renew Your WEF Membership Today

Connect with our community of water professionals who ensure that our local communities have access to clean water that protects public health. Explore our member benefits and find the membership type that’s right for you.

Join or Renew Online


From hands-on-training and leadership opportunities, such as Operations Challenge, to online training, such as the Wastewater Treatment Fundamentals series, WEF provides operators with many opportunities to advance on-the-job knowledge and develop their careers.

Learn More

Water & Wastewater Treatment

More than 16,000 publicly owned water resource recovery facilities operate in the United States. Skilled engineers and operators work together to ensure new and updated facilities continue to protect public health and the environment.

Learn More

Biosolids Resource Recovery

Through biosolids management, solid residue from wastewater treatment is processed to reduce or eliminate pathogens and minimize odors, forming a safe, beneficial agricultural product. Biosolids are carefully monitored and must be used in accordance with regulatory requirements.

Learn More

Industrial Water Resources

Industries treat and reuse wastewater and process water as well as provide environmentally sustainable wastewater treatment while reducing costs and maintaining value for their businesses.

Learn more

Utility Management

To respond to myriad daily challenges faced by water and wastewater utility leaders, WEF continuously works with its members and partners to develop a variety of management initiatives; resources; and educational, training, and networking opportunities.

Learn more

Government & Regulatory Affairs

WEF advocacy activities aim to educate WEF members and the water sector on public policy issues related to water quality and resources and equip them to play a greater role in water policy discussions.

Learn more

Collection Systems and Conveyance

The system of underground pipes and maintenance structures that convey wastewater has brought dramatic improvements to public health. Most sewers carry wastes from households and commercial establishments and are referred to as sanitary sewers.

Learn more

Stormwater & Watershed Management

Take a comprehensive look at how all water resources, including uplands, drainage basins, wetlands, stormwater, surface water, and groundwater interact.

Learn more

Public Health

The water sector and its systems protect public and ecological health. Using the data that can be collected through smart water technologies provides additional insights to address complex public health issues.

Learn more