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Meridian Institute

The Johnson Foundation Issues Groundbreaking Report on U.S. Freshwater Crisis

Monday, September 29, 2014 - Brad Spangler

An unprecedented alliance of diverse stakeholders has worked tirelessly over the past six years to transform the way we use and consume water. Today, The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread announced the release of Navigating to New Shores: Seizing the Future for Sustainable and Resilient U.S. Freshwater Resources - a report that culminates The Foundation's work through its Charting New Waters (CNW) initiative.
 
"The Johnson Foundation first began looking at the challenges that surround our nation's water resources in 2008, and has since been doing what it does best - bringing together partners to spur collective action," said Dr. Lynn Broaddus, Director of the Environment Program at The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread. "Charting New Waters has been a deep examination of how the management of our water resources can be reimagined and reinvented to address our water challenges and generate positive environmental, economic and social benefits."
 
In its latest phase, CNW focused on what it will take to transform the nation's aging 19th- and 20th-century water infrastructure into resilient 21st-century systems that will sustain the nation's environment, economy and society for future generations. By aiming to help local, state and national leaders set a course for and navigate decisions regarding the conception, construction, financing and management of water infrastructure, CNW's ultimate goal is to accelerate the widespread adoption of innovative and successful water infrastructure and management solutions.
 
"We originally launched this effort knowing that, despite the growing concerns around U.S. water security, there seemed to be no one pulling together the important work that was happening in different sectors and different regions," said Broaddus. "Innovation is happening in every aspect of water resources management today - in all regions of the nation - and The Johnson Foundation sees myriad opportunities to take water sector innovation to the next level."
 
The final Charting New Waters report contains a set of groundbreaking and timely recommendations to catalyze transformative changes in how the United States manages its freshwater resources in the face of climate change, failing infrastructure, drought, extreme storms and other critical challenges. The recommendations are informed by the wisdom of more than 600 diverse experts who have participated in the CNW initiative.
 
"The recommendations presented in the report can help guide our efforts here at Veolia as well as the efforts of other businesses, utilities, advocates, policymakers, and communities," said Ed PiƱero, Senior Vice President of Sustainability and Public Affairs at Veolia North America. "I think it's extremely important for decision makers and implementers in all sectors - across all scales - to find ways to act on the recommendations laid out in this report and advance the transformation of water management throughout the country."
 
The report marks the conclusion of the Foundation's work on U.S. freshwater issues and will be used as a tool to discuss successes and set goals for the battles that still lie ahead. The Foundation will be conducting a final convening that will focus on the progress made over the past six years by everyone involved in CNW and the opportunities for others to carry the work forward.
 
"We all need water and count on it to survive," said Broaddus. "Our economy would grind to a halt without the reliable, safe, disease-free water that most North Americans have come to take for granted. Tackling our water infrastructure challenges presents an opportunity for future economic growth and an overall better quality of life for all of us."
The report is available for download at: http://www.johnsonfdn.org/aboutus/capstone