“We Are Family” – The Canada-US Alliance

Sep 1, 2019

The Water Haller – September 2019


“We Are Family” – The Canada-US Alliance


Canada’s relationship with the US has always been the most unique and the most important international friendship.  For CWWA, our US relationships play such a big part in who we are at CWWA and an important part in what we do.  We are a completely independent corporation, as is WEF, AWWA and NACWA.  But we all have guiding MOU’s with each other to enshrine our cooperation and we have become effective partners on so many fronts regarding advocacy, the value of water, and utility leadership. I always like to quote Hermie from the Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer special when he suggests to Rudolph, “Let’s be independent…together.”  


I am just wrapping up four days in Chicago at another amazing WEFTEC event and I am leaving so inspired and so pumped about the strength of our US relationships.  I am invited each year to participate in WEF’s Government Affairs Committee where I am proud to report on all of our advocacy efforts (and successes) in Canada for the Canadian wastewater sector. I also get to thank WEF for the financial support they provide CWWA each year to advocate on behalf of their Canadian WEF members. I then get to sit as an active member of WEF’s Canadian Affairs Council working closely with the five Canadian member associations and see the tremendous support WEF gives to this Council. This past July, WEF brought their entire Board of Directors to Toronto for three days of meetings and dedicated much of a day to “Canadian” issues, hearing from the Council, CWWA and our IWA National Committee. The dialogue was very sincere and meaningful on how WEF can better serve their Canadian members by ‘globalizing’ their publications, translating critical resources and ensuring Canadian input on all committees and projects.  While I will dearly miss my good friend Eileen O’Neill as she retires as WEF’s Executive Director, I had the chance to get to know the new E.D., Walt Marlow (pssssssst…he was actually born in Canada…Charlottetown, PEI….so he’s gotta be a good guy).


While I am at a WEF event, I also had a great meeting here with my counterpart, and friend, David Lafrance, AWWA’s Executive Director.  Every spring I sit in on their Utility Council and share our Canadian efforts. I also play an active role on AWWA’s Canadian Affairs Committee working with AWWA’s five Canadian sections.  We had a very active year working on issues around lead and manganese.  This year, the AWWA is hosting their “Canadian Summit” event as an adjunct to our National Conference in Banff. This tri-annual event identifies the key water issues in Canada, sets priorities or our Canadian Committee and helps AWWA to best serve their Canadian members.


Earlier this year, CWWA signed an MOU with our new partners at NACWA – the National Alliance of Clean Water Agencies.  I was invited to Washington, DC to participate in their annual “Fly-in” and was able to sit in on their board meeting and observe their advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill.  Really fascinating!  NACWA has been a most critical partner in our efforts to address flushable wipes and is supporting our Climate Change committee on a new, national survey project.  

I think the greatest sign of the strength of our friendship with these US-based organizations has been their 100% support for our bid to host the IWA World Water Congress in 2022.  WEF and AWWA each provided video clips supporting our bid and that support continues as we develop an exciting, and utility-relevant program for Toronto 2022.  They have all committed to supporting us to welcome the world to North America. 


CWWA’s legal membership is a corporate membership, but our ‘real’ membership is made up of individuals. But almost every one of these individuals is a member of WEF or AWWA (or both) first.  This is where our ‘profession’ begins. Their support for the water/wastewater individual is critical to one’s professional development from operator to senior utility leader, from student to renowned academic or respected regulator. You gain and retain your professional credentials through their training and resources and you build your professional networks through active involvement in your provincial/regional section or member association.  Of course, direction from these organizations comes from their US headquarters.  So CWWA was formed to create a wider, national network for Canadians and to facilitate an east-west dialogue on critical national issues and federal policies. We work in support of, and in conjunction with, these AWWA sections and WEF member associations.  This relationship is strengthened by each having a director named to our CWWA Board of Directors. 


Well… I hope this helps clarify our respective roles and strategic alliances.


Of course…I have to end with a plug for the NWWC in Banff.  All three of these US partners are sending senior staffers and/or board leaders to our event to participate in sessions and to better understand Canadian issues.


See you all in Banff!!