Upstream Strategies

Future Water Research & Innovation Solutions

Four hours, 123 participants, and 3,108 ideas generated—WRF's Upstream Strategies project sought to identify the future significant disruptors that will challenge the water sector over the next 10–20 years. The participants also brainstormed potential research activities to help the sector turn these disruptors into opportunities to support their communities. Disruptors and research opportunities are organized below according to five Challenge Areas: Environmental Systems, Infrastructure, Utility Operations and Management, Economic, and Community Engagement. 

Environmental Systems

Watershed Health

Climate Change Adaptation

Constituents of Emerging Concern


Distribution System Management

Resilient Infrastructure


Utility Operations and Management

Asset Management

Emergence of New Technology

Leadership and Workforce


Financial Sustainability

Utility Revenue


Community Engagement

Equity and Environmental Justice

Expanded Expectations of Utilities

Public Trust

Upstream Strategies Co-Chairs

WRF would like to thank the following water professionals who gave their time and expertise to this effort:

  • Environmental Systems
    • Art Umble, PhD, PE, BCEE, Wastewater Practice Leader, Stantec
    • Paul Kadota, Program Manager, Metro Vancouver
    • Melita Stevens, PhD, Principal Scientist, Melbourne Water
  • Infrastructure
    • Gary Burlingame, BCES, Director of Bureau of Laboratory Services, Philadelphia Water Department
    • Charles Stevens, Utility Operations Officer, KC Water
  • Utility Operations & Management
    • Ryan Locicero, PhD, PE, Business Practice Leader, Clean Water Services
    • Terry Daniel, Water Operations Director, Great Lakes Water Authority
    • Shaun Pietig, PE, Manager of Distribution Engineering, WaterOne
  • Economic
    • Kathryn Sorensen, Director of Research, ASU Kyl Center for Water Policy, Morrison Institute
    • Andrea Remias, Planning Manager, Engineering and Construction, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
    • Robin Rupe, Project Manager, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
  • Community Engagement
    • Zonetta English, Strategic Initiatives & Project Delivery Director, Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District
    • Alan Roberson, Executive Director, Association of State Drinking Water Agencies