As the Western States oscillate between relentless drought and record-breaking rainfall, it’s clear that the need for an industry-wide response to water challenges has never been more acute.
Uniting a sector
To unite the sector in the drive for change, the Reservoir Center for Water Solutions was founded in June 2022. The Center’s ethos – that ideas for the future of water and sustainability don’t come from a single voice – is one that Xylem, a founding partner, shares.
The opening of the Center represents a commitment to strengthening collaboration within the sector, and to strengthening water’s voice beyond it. As a consortium of 36 non-profit partners from academia, youth outreach organizations, local waterkeepers, international organizations, trade associations and think tanks, the Center is an important catalyst for progress – providing a neutral space where individual agendas are left at the door in favour of diversity and shared goals. This fusion of skills, resources, and perspectives, means we can advance breakthrough solutions to overcome the world’s toughest water challenges. Together, we can write the next chapter for water.
We’re just eight months in and we’ve already made progress in advancing the global conversation on water. Our recently launched Annual Report 2022 outlines some of the successes achieved under our framework for action that encompasses three key elements – convene, ideate, and educate. With partners including the US Water Alliance, the International Water Association, EarthEcho International, and the Aspen Institute, we’ve brought together diverse players from state and national agencies, utilities, non-profits, private companies, and members of the Washington D.C. community.
The Center is a catalyst for progress, a neutral space where individual agendas are left at the door in favour of shared goals
Events have included curated conversations on the current state of the sector and career development seminars. We also held two service projects to benefit the community and the local watershed. Informational webinars on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also outlined the resources available to underserved communities.
For us, the Center’s location – 301 Water Street – along the Anacostia River in Washington D.C. has proved instrumental to its success. In providing a focal point for water interests, the Center allows us to convene a unique cross-section of enthusiasts. Even more encouraging, the Center is already reverberating beyond D.C., facilitating collaboration both nationally and internationally. Recent seminars on climate resiliency and women in water featured live discussions from COP27 in Egypt and World Water Week in Sweden.
Casually coined the “WeWork for Water”, the Reservoir Center’s model is also having an impact. By providing shared facilities, office space and event space – which some organizations may not otherwise have access to – the Center is removing barriers between stakeholders and democratizing action.
To build on the Reservoir Center’s success in the months ahead, growing this community is vital. The gains that can be achieved from collaboration, as well as those “meeting at the water cooler” moments, can’t be underestimated. The Center provides an opportunity to fast-track progress by connecting partners, engaging thought leaders, and elevating new voices. In 2023, the Reservoir Center will host a series of themed workdays, including days focused on Data Science, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Showcasing water sector careers such as environmental justice, the “Careers for Change” series will also connect and nurture professionals in the space.
Moving forward together
Looking ahead, to build on the Reservoir Center’s success we encourage present and potential partners to consider Henry Ford’s maxim, “if everyone is moving forward together then success takes care of itself.” By uniting experience, resources, and fresh perspectives, the Reservoir Center can open the floodgates for the solutions the water sector – and the world – needs.