EPA Symposium on the Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy

On December 4th, EPA’s Office of Water hosted a half-day symposium in Washington, DC. (attended in person by ASDWA staff and via conference call by several administrators) on the value of water to the U.S. economy.  This symposium is part of an overall study of this subject by the Agency, which is designed to:

  • Summarize existing knowledge about the role and importance of water to the U.S. economy;
  • Provide information that supports private and public sector decision-making, and
  • Identify areas where additional research would be useful.

The Agency hopes that the study will be a catalyst for a broader discussion on the role of water in the economy and the information required to support efficient and effective economic decisions related to water.  As part of the study, EPA has supported the development of a series of papers written by experts to supplement existing information and to present current economic analyses and innovations. EPA also held a technical workshop in September 2012 (attended by the drinking water administrators in Delaware and New Hampshire) to discuss the agency’s literature review and solicit feedback.   The goals of the December 4th symposium were to:

  • To provide a forum for sharing information on the role and importance of water to different sectors of the U.S. economy;
  • To initiate a dialogue with public and private sector leaders on the types of information used to guide business’ decisions related to water management; and
  • To explore ways to fill information gaps and prepare for future water needs.

A series of four panels (infrastructure & technology; agriculture, food, and beverage production; recreation, tourism, and development; and energy) explored these themes as they related to their respective sectors.  The panelists noted that water is vital to a productive and growing U.S. economy — directly and indirectly affecting the production of goods and services in many sectors.

EPA will release a draft report that synthesizes all of this information in the coming months. The synthesis report will summarize key findings from the background report, expert papers, technical workshop, and symposium.  It will also offer suggestions for filling research and information gaps.