Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program

Congratulations to the 65 Utility of the Future Today honorees for 2020!  

This is the fifth year of the Utility of the Future Today (UotFT) program and saw the greatest number of applicants and honorees. These honorees have received a Certificate of Recognition and/or a UotFT banner or a 2020 flag.  This year, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, WEF and its partner organizations are not able to acknowledge the 2020 honorees in person at WEFTEC. Instead, an Awards Ceremony video has been created and is available by clicking the link below. Please view and enjoy the ceremony with friends, family, and colleagues, and cheer on this year’s honorees! 

Looking ahead to UotFT 2021!

Application Process
The application process for the UotFT 2021 will start in January 2021.  A link to the online application will be made available here on this webpage and completed applications will be submitted via the Water Environment Federation’s Open Water Platform (a link will be provided).  Applications will be reviewed by a panel of judges comprised of peer utility general managers and executives.  In the meantime, the compendium of honoree applications provided below is a valuable resource regarding successful applications. 

Eligibility
Public and private water sector utilities of all sizes that can demonstrate achievement of the application requirements are encouraged to apply. Applicants must have had no major violations of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements for the previous year from the date of application. 

Recognition
Honorees will be recognized as part of WEFTEC 2021, either in person or as part of a virtual event, and will receive a Certificate of Recognition, a UotFT Today banner, and/or a 2021 flag.  In addition, honorees will be recognized in WEF’s Environment & Technology magazine, as well as in press releases from WEF and the partner organizations.  Applicants are not required to attend WEFTEC to receive recognition.

 UotFT Program Background

The UotFT Recognition Program promotes a community of innovative water utilities engaged in advancing resource efficiency and recovery, developing proactive relationships with stakeholders, and establishing resilient, sustainable, and livable communities. The Recognition Program, through the aggregation and sharing of utility advancements and experiences, enables participants across a broad continuum of capacities and capabilities to learn from each other and continually grow and sustain their efforts to be, and continually advance the concept of, the Utility of the Future.

The UotFT program focuses on activity areas which are the foundational building blocks of successful utilities:

  • recovery and new uses of a full range of resources;
  • engagement as a leader in the full water cycle and broader social, economic, and environmental sustainability of the community;
  • transformation of the internal utility culture in support of these innovations; and
  • engagement in the community and formation of partnerships necessary for success when operating outside of the traditional span of control of the utility.

The Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program is a joint initiative led by the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Research Foundation (WRF) and the WateReuse Association, and is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Wastewater Management, and the Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. 

Questions?

For more information, review the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact [email protected].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We asked UOTF honorees what this recognition means to them – and to their utility. Here’s what they had to say.

Hardeep Anand"Being recognized validates our organization’s path of continuous improvement that’s informed by best practices and a commonality of experience with other water utilities that are transforming the nation’s water systems.”

Hardeep Anand, P.E., Deputy Director
Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department FL 

 


Diane Taniguchi Denis“We’ve participated in the Utility of the Future Recognition Program since its launch. The Program is one of the ways we measure performance and cultivate a culture of learning within our organization and our industry. Utility of the Future is also a platform for telling our story: To our ratepayers and stakeholders, to our organizational peers and partners, and – perhaps most importantly – to each other”

Diane Taniguchi-Dennis, P.E., BCEE, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, Clean Water Services, OR

Headshot of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Mayor Lionel Jordan“I extend my gratitude to NACWA, WEF, WaterReuse Association, WE&RF & EPA for advancing efforts in water resource recovery through the Utility of the Future Today Recognition program. We were proud to be honored for leading innovative solutions that are enhancing our environment, improving our precious water resource, and contributing to the quality of life for Fayetteville citizens.”

Lionel Jordan, Mayor of Fayetteville AR

About UotFT Today

The sponsoring organizations for this recognition program understand that substantial excellence in the operations of wastewater treatment systems exists today. Many utilities optimize and continually improve their operations, consistently meet or exceed their regulatory requirements, plan and invest effectively for the maintenance, repair and replacement of their infrastructure, and engage their employees and communities in meaningful and productive ways.

The Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program seeks to reach deeply into the water sector to form and motivate a community of like-minded water utilities engaged in advancing resource efficiency and recovery, developing proactive relationships with stakeholders, and establishing resilient, sustainable, and livable communities. The Recognition Program, through the aggregation and sharing of utility advancements and experiences, will enable participants across a broad continuum of capacities and capabilities to learn from each other and continually grow and sustain their efforts to be, and continually advance the concept of, the Utility of the Future.

Utilities receiving recognition through this program are expected to share their practices and experiences to create a community of practice around the Utility of the Future Today, and to enable other utilities to continually learn from each other and evolve as a sector.

The “Water Resources Utility of the Future” was first articulated in a 2013 publication jointly prepared by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF).  The Water Resources Utility of the Future: A Blueprint for Action sought to capture in one place current, emergent, and possible wastewater utility opportunities that, packaged together, presented a revolutionary future for the sector. That revolution would transform the traditional wastewater treatment system to a community-based resource recovery center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve.

While a variety of initiatives exist to promote and acknowledge excellent performance and sustainable management of utilities focused on our sector’s historic priorities – providing reliable, affordable, and responsible wastewater collection and treatment service, the most prominent of these is Effective Utility Management (EUM) (www.WaterEUM.org). While EUM is not a requirement for recognition under this program, utilities are encouraged to use the EUM framework as they seek to become a Utility of the Future. 

 

Past Honorees

Since 2016, 118 utilities have been recognized as part of the Utility of the Future Today recognition program. To learn more about UTOF Today honorees, review the honoree compendiums. 

We asked UTOF honorees what this recognition means to them – and to their utility. Here’s what they had to say.

Hardeep Anand"Being recognized validates our organization’s path of continuous improvement that’s informed by best practices and a commonality of experience with other water utilities that are transforming the nation’s water systems.”

Hardeep Anand, P.E., Deputy Director
Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department FL 

 

Diane Taniguchi Denis“We’ve participated in the Utility of the Future Recognition Program since its launch. The Program is one of the ways we measure performance and cultivate a culture of learning within our organization and our industry. Utility of the Future is also a platform for telling our story: To our ratepayers and stakeholders, to our organizational peers and partners, and – perhaps most importantly – to each other”

Diane Taniguchi-Dennis, P.E., BCEE, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, Clean Water Services, OR


Headshot of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Mayor Lionel Jordan“I extend my gratitude to NACWA, WEF, WaterReuse Association, WE&RF & EPA for advancing efforts in water resource recovery through the Utility of the Future Today Recognition program. We were proud to be honored for leading innovative solutions that are enhancing our environment, improving our precious water resource, and contributing to the quality of life for Fayetteville citizens.”

Lionel Jordan, Mayor of Fayetteville AR

Diane Taniguchi Denis“Gwinnett County has been an innovative leader in the water sector for many years. Being recognized two years in a row as a Utility of the Future Today has become a source of pride for our employees, community, and County leadership. And it is a designation that we will continue to seek.”

Tyler Richards, Assistant Director
Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources GA


Headshot of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Mayor Lionel Jordan“Through setting high-performance standards, the Utility of the Future Today partnership helps CWW to continuously compete and improve, thereby building stronger trust from customers and instilling a servant’s heart within our employees in regard to environmental stewardship.”

Steve Davis, President, Columbus Water Works GA



Diane Taniguchi Denis“Recognition as a Utility of the Future Today means Phoenix residents can be confident that their water utility is committed to resiliency, innovation, and working with the community to use – and reuse -- water efficiently and sustainably."

Kathryn Sorensen, Director
City of Phoenix Water Services Department AZ

 

Diane Taniguchi Denis“We see this recognition as an honor, and vindication of the City’s vision and commitment with multiple private and public partners to create a one water utility that will provide our community with a sustainable water supply for the foreseeable future.”

Tim Snead, City Administrator
City of Quincy WA

 

FAQs

Questions?

For more information, review the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact [email protected].

 

UOTF Partners

About WEF

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of 35,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. Since 1928, WEF and its members have protected public health and the environment. As a global water sector leader, our mission is to connect water professionals; enrich the expertise of water professionals; increase the awareness of the impact and value of water; and provide a platform for water sector innovation. To learn more, visit www.wef.org

 

About NACWA

For nearly 50 years, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has been the nation’s recognized leader in legislative, regulatory and legal advocacy on the full spectrum of clean water issues. NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide. Our unique and growing network strengthens the advocacy voice for all member utilities, and ensures they have the tools necessary to provide affordable and sustainable clean water for all. Our vision is to represent every utility as a NACWA member, helping to build a strong and sustainable clean water future. For more information, visit us at www.nacwa.org.

 

About the WateReuse Association

The WateReuse Association is the nation’s only trade association solely dedicated to advancing laws, policy, funding, and public acceptance of recycled water. The WateReuse Association represents a coalition of utilities that recycle water, businesses that support the development of recycled water projects, and users of recycled water. Our members are incorporating water reuse into their water management strategies as a proven method for ensuring a safe, reliable, locally controlled water supply. To learn more, visit www.watereuse.org.

About WRF

The Water Research Foundation is a 501c3 organization officially formed in January 2018 after the merger of the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation and Water Research Foundation. The merged Foundation is the leading water research organization, funding research, pilot projects, and technology demonstrations that maximize the value of all water, including wastewater, stormwater, drinking water, and recycled water. Learn more at www.werf.org or www.waterrf.org.