Project #5206

Developing an Environmental, Social, and Governance Framework for Water Utilities

In Progress
Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Harry Zhang, PhD, PE
Integrated Planning & Water Management
Climate Change
Utility Management


The water sector faces significant challenges related to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations. Utilities, for example, must provide safe and reliable potable water, treat wastewater, manage stormwater, and preserve and protect this resource amid ever-changing regulations and budgetary constraints. The water sector continues to be at the forefront of climate impacts.  Utilities must also mitigate environmental impacts on air, water, and land from operations and from capital projects and programs; manage social considerations, such as equity, accessibility, affordability, and community engagement; and continuously improve governance-related topics including compliance, transparency, and ethical conduct. Navigating these responsibilities is challenging, and utilities would greatly benefit from formal guidance that is tailored to the water sector.

The objectives of this project are threefold: 1) complete a comprehensive review and evaluation of the existing state of ESG practices and best practices from across the water sector; 2) develop a robust and tailored ESG framework including metrics specific to water utilities for tracking, reporting, and managing ESG topics; and 3) widely share and communicate project outcomes including utility case studies to increase awareness of ESG.