The Pacific Northwest faces billions of dollars in investments to update its water infrastructure to serve growing cities, address climate change, and restore freshwater systems. Willamette Partnership and Portland State University are partnering to deliver a workforce needs assessment that will help water utilities and other infrastructure providers get ready to design, build, and maintain the infrastructure of tomorrow.
Clean water is our most precious resource, it is critical to public health, vibrant economies, and healthy wildlife. The Northwest’s water utilities provide clean drinking water to our homes, process wastewater that goes back into rivers and streams, and manage the runoff from city streets and businesses. They also provide thousands of stable, living wage jobs. In the next 50 years, those utilities will face unprecedented challenges. Across the Northwest, the sector needs to adapt to new regulatory requirements, a changing climate, and an aging workforce. For urban areas, those issues are compounded by the need to keep pace with population growth. In rural areas, the challenge is more often about accessing the funding or financing to make costly upgrades. Northwest utilities need a diverse and prepared workforce to meet those challenges.