Energy and Environment Program

Dialogue on Sustainable Water Infrastructure in the United States

Watch video from our Roundtable on Sustainable Water Infrastructure in the U.S.

Katherine Baer of American Rivers on the redefinition of water infrastructure, as detailed in the Aspen Institute report Sustainable Water Systems: Step One -- Redefining the Nationa's Infrastructure Challenge, to include the watershed and natural environment, and how that will lead to the holistic, integrated management of water resources and delivery in the United States.

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About the Dialogue and Report
America’s drinking water and wastewater systems face increasing challenges in maintaining and replacing their pipes, treatment plants, and other critical infrastructure. Prolonging and renewing the nation’s high-quality water services requires a clear sense of what is a sustainable water infrastructure, the amount of investment needed to create and preserve it, where investments should be made, and by whom. In 2008 and 2009 the Aspen Institute convened a multi-stakeholder dialogue to help provide clarity and promote leadership on these issues.

With few exceptions, everyone shares the goals of ensuring clean and safe drinking water for all communities, protecting the natural environment, and making certain that the nation’s water infrastructure benefits from sustained investment. Keeping these shared values in the forefront of our Aspen Dialogue was essential as the group examined the subordinate issues on which positions differed. In this case, the shared values and differing positions led to new thinking about an expanded definition of water infrastructure, and by implication, what investments are needed to provide a more holistic approach to sustainable water infrastructure.

The Aspen Institute would like to thank the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) and CH2M HILL for their generous support of this dialogue. Without their commitment and generosity, the dialogue could not have taken place.

Download an electronic version of the report, Sustainable Water Systems: Step One - Redefining the Nation's Infrastructure Challenge.

For more information on the Dialogue on Sustainable Water Infrastructure in the United States, or to request a printed copy of the report, contact Regan Nelson, Project Manager, at or (202) 736-2916.