News Oct 23, 2018

Leading a Valuable Water Future

Global Director of Water, Peter Nicol, discusses Jacobs’ passionate involvement with the Value of Water Coalition and Leading Utilities of the World initiative ahead of three new members’ inductions at the upcoming American Water Summit.

Water droplet on a leaf with world reflection inside the water droplet

Did you know that around the world, 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water? Water is the world’s most undervalued resource. It is essential for human life, yet most users pay nowhere near its actual cost. That’s why in 2012, we joined our industry partners to address the value of water issue.

Together, we established the Value of Water Coalition, charged with raising awareness for the value of water in the U.S. and motivating the public to take action and support investment in our water infrastructure. Today, this coalition is now part of the U.S. Water Alliance, which we continue to support. The public awareness campaign has not only raised water’s profile but provides our clients a platform for demonstrating water’s value to ratepayers.

Each year in October, the Value of Water Coalition charges the country to celebrate the national Imagine a Day Without Water. Last year’s event generated six million impressions on social media and reached nearly five million people through radio and TV. More than 750 organizations participated in the event in 2017 and in 2018, that number grew to more than 1,100.

2018’s Imagine a Day Without Water participation on Oct. 10 included mayors and city councils issuing proclamations and resolutions, and elected officials across the country showing support on social media. For our part, Jacobs released a white paper in honor of this event, titled “The Water of Our Future is the Water of Our Past.” In the paper, we explored the factors at the root of the global water crisis and provided insights on one promising solution to diminish it: potable water reuse. We also shared fascinating water facts and conversation starters throughout the day on our social media channels, especially our Twitter account where we saw a more than 230 percent increase in engagements on Imagine a Day Without Water.

We expect the Value of Water Coalition’s momentum to continue to grow and remain committed as a founding member of the organization. Another important organization helping elevate the importance of water is the Leading Utilities of the World.

An initiative of the Global Water Leaders Group, the Leading Utilities of the World organization is the gold standard of utility innovation and performance, striving to move the water sector forward through greater collaboration, experience-sharing and knowledge-pooling. Since the organization’s inception, Jacobs has served as the organization’s foundation partner, further demonstrating our commitment to making a difference in the water sector.

As the foundation partner, we enrich the network by bringing a private sector engineering perspective to the dialogue and helping support network activities, including sponsoring all Leading Utility of the World events run at conferences around the world. Each year, the network inducts new members to the organization for their outstanding achievement in multiple utility management categories – such as response to drought or scarcity, IT and smart water systems and finance and capital project procurement – and ambition to continue to drive performance in the years to come.

In 2018, we welcomed new utilities to the network at the Global Water Summit in Paris, Singapore International Week and this week at the American Water Summit in Philadelphia, several more utilities will join us. These new members are:

Denver Water, USA.

Alexandria Renew Enterprises, USA.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, USA.

Northumbrian Water, U.K.

These soon-to-be-inaugurated utilities have not only achieved greatness in utility management, but each of the organization’s ambitions to continue to drive performance for years to come is truly remarkable – just consider AlexRenew’s State-of-the-Art Nitrogen Upgrade Program for example. These organizations are helping improve the state of water by using innovative solutions and inspiring other utilities to do better. It will certainly be an honor to welcome them into the Leading Utilities of the World network this week at the American Water Summit, one of North America’s premier water conferences.

Speaking of the American Water Summit, my colleague, Jacobs COO and Buildings, Infrastructure and Advanced Facilities President Bob Pragada will join the CEO Panel during the summit to discuss how Jacobs is helping shape the future of water by driving change to address the needs of a rising population, unpredictable weather patterns and an increasingly data-driven economy.

I’m looking forward to Bob’s panel at the American Water Summit to continue Jacobs’ important role in the water conversation as one of the industry’s consistently top-ranked water firms across markets. And I’m equally excited about continuing our passionate involvement with the Value of Water Coalition and Leading Utilities of the World initiative to help shape our water future.

About the author

Peter Nicol currently serves as Global Director of Water at Jacobs and was formerly CH2M’s Global Water Business Group President where he had full profit and loss responsibility for the $1.4 billion global water business, including leading more than 5,000 water professionals, in 175 offices, in more than 50 countries worldwide. Under Peter’s leadership, CH2M solidified its brand as the global market leader in water and wastewater design work, and he continues to lead Jacobs’ industry-leading water efforts. Peter joined CH2M in 1980 after receiving his bachelor of applied science degree in Geological Engineering and Applied Earth Sciences from the University of Toronto.