Bringing Nature to Water Infrastructure








The Water Infrastructure of Tomorrow 

Building integrated water systems that benefit nature and society

Water infrastructure is essential to our everyday lives. It’s how we get our clean drinking water, how waste is recycled, stormwater drained, farm fields irrigated, and floodwaters kept at bay. Tomorrow’s water infrastructure will need to address population growth, wildlife species’ needs, community values, and a changing climate in creative, efficient, and integrated ways.  Learn about Willamette Partnership’s work in this space below.

Population growth and more frequent extreme weather events are intensifying the pressure on our country’s aging infrastructure at a time when federal investment in local and regional water infrastructure is increasingly less.


The growing challenges facing America’s water infrastructure can be an opportunity to redefine the way we think about infrastructure. At Willamette Partnership, we envision having a water infrastructure that works with nature on a watershed-scale, because we know those are the kinds of solutions that bring multiple benefits to the economy, public health, social equity, water quality, and wildlife.



water infrastructureLaws and utilities aren’t set-up to deliver the kinds of integrated and nature-based solutions we need. For example, stormwater, drinking water, and wastewater are managed separately under environmental laws and often by different entities.

Our regulatory system often can’t accept restoration for compliance. Too often the systems governing water infrastructure and water quality are unable to accept the use of nature-based approaches, like river restoration, to meet water quality standards.

Gaps in scientific understanding of what ecosystems need, what restoration and conservation can achieve, and the economic benefits that a healthy, resilient environment can provide to communities.


We know that to change the world, we need the right choice to be the easy choice, which means creating smooth policy pathways, providing supporting information, and helping evolving institutions develop their capacities. Willamette Partnership’s team members are problem solvers at the nexus of science, policy, and people, and our experience makes us uniquely positioned to enable competitive, nature-based solutions for the Pacific Northwest’s drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater infrastructure. Here’s what we can do to transform and support a region of water infrastructure innovators:

  • Innovate: Identifying new ways to address sticky issues and moving those ideas into action. Building a coalition of partners that can remove barriers–whether in science, policy, decision-making, or finance–and get innovative approaches off the starting blocks.
  • Launch: Working directly with utilities and their key partners and stakeholders to start up and operate innovative programs.
  • Transfer: Communicating results and making innovative approaches progressively easier and faster to implement, thereby speeding transfer to other places where they can be applied, especially to communities with less capacity.
  • Scale: Figuring out how to change the world by changing the rules–helping build networks, institutions, and policies in which better resource decisions get made.





Workforce for Water

We’re assessing the jobs and skills needed to build a workforce that’s prepared to deliver Oregon and Washington’s major water infrastructure needs.

clean water services water infrastructure
Willamette River Temperature Oregon


Willamette River Water Temperature

Spending restoration dollars where it can do the most good.



Water Quality Trading

River restoration that’s good for fish, good for farmers, and good for business.

wetlands water quality trading

Publications & News

Get in touch about smarter water infrastructure.


Kristiana Teige Witherill staff photo


For inquiries about our projects related to water infrastructure

Kristiana Teige Witherill, Partner, Natural Infrastructure
email |
office | 503.946.1904

There’s a smarter way to manage floodplains.



Banner photo / Marlin Greene, One Earth Images; photo by “Workforce for Water” project / Clean Water Services