The Water Equity & Climate Resilience (WECR) Caucus delegation of 40 frontline water justice organizations and allies traveled to the 2023 One Water Summit in Tucson, AZ last month. The Summit, hosted by U.S. Water Alliance, brought together 972 participants from 322 cities across 46 states, creating an inclusive space for conversations and recognizing leaders in water management, equity, and sustainability.

During Summit, WECR centered the role of narrative change, leading a peer session that emphasized the importance of relationships, connecting with artists, and deploying creative strategies rooted in place, land, and peoples. 

Core members Monica Lewis-Patrick, Marleen Villanueva, Maritza Alvarez, and Tina Calderon led the session focused on narrative change and the necessity of crafting helpful narratives on our shared reality while discarding outdated, harmful ones. Participants worked with each other to challenge harmful narratives about water and explored alternatives to reshape collective understanding for a more equitable and sustainable future.

Photo of Lupe Garcia speaking into a microphone in front of a crowd at One Water Summit

Photos courtesy of the US Water Alliance and Jon Armstrong Photography.

The U.S. Water Alliance celebrated the achievements of eight U.S. Water Prize winners, showcasing remarkable contributions to the water sector, including the outstanding efforts of WECR core member Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples and ally DigDeep:

“I want to thank all of the Tribal Nations in this continent that, prior to colonization, had been taking care of the waters and the lands in a balanced way. In a way that the water was available to everyone, and there was a reciprocal relationship with water. And I think because we have moved past those principles and values, we find ourselves in places like here- trying to figure out how to provide clean and safe water for all human beings, at the same time trying to rematriate the waters.” -Martiza Alvarez, Indigenous Media Team, Sacred Places Institute.

Julian Gonzalez, Senior Legislative Counsel with Earthjustice and member of the WECR Steering Committee, spoke about the importance of building trust between utilities and communities during a session on water affordability:  "You can’t build trust with people if you’re shutting off their water or their grandmother’s water." 

Attendees departed with fresh perspectives on resilience, highlighting the summit's success in offering diverse viewpoints. Looking forward, the desire for more youth and indigenous perspectives in the water sector emerged as a shared vision. Participants called for collaborative and integrated solutions, emphasizing the need for improved accessibility, language justice, translations, recordings, and family-friendly features at future events.

As the ripples of impact from the One Water Summit 2023 continue to reverberate, we find ourselves at the forefront of a transformative era in water leadership. Let's carry the momentum forward, weaving connections, fostering collaboration, and championing a future where water is not just a resource but a right for all.

Thank you to the entire WECR Caucus delegation!