The residents of Alexandria, Virginia sometimes confuse the three water entities that service the city: Virginia American Water (VAW), which provides drinking water; the City of Alexandria, which owns the sanitary sewer system and stormwater infrastructure; and Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew), which owns the water resource recovery facility, interceptors, pump stations, and four combined sewer outfalls.
In 2018, the One Water Alexandria partnership was established to provide education and outreach to the community and lessen confusion among shared water customers. The eight-person team, which represents the three water entities and RiverRenew (an AlexRenew program to address combined sewer overflows), developed a multi-phased plan to get Alexandrians to know their H2O.
The partnership’s campaign efforts feature educational videos, a joint presence at school events and Earth Day, co-sponsoring the annual Water Discovery Day, a creative logo and collateral materials, social media collaboration, water lesson development for third and sixth graders in the public schools, and more.
Future partnership projects include increased video production, joint participation in the City of Alexandria’s Citizen Academy and its specialized Environmental Citizen and Graduate Citizen Academies, and leading a weekday waterways cleanup. Additionally, plans are being developed to sponsor an outdoor water-centric movie series, expand the STEM curriculum in public schools to additional grades, increase social media presence, and finalize a partnership for a local water education event with the National Science Foundation.
One Water Alexandria has reached thousands of joint customers, and inquiries about the roles of the respective water entities have gone down by approximately 60%. Additional benefits of the partnership include a well-informed citizenry about how water works in Alexandria, shared expenses for outreach materials and programs, joint personnel resources, increased community interaction, and fostering team spirit between the water entities.
Alexandria Renew Enterprises was recognized with a National Environmental Achievement Award in the Public Information & Education - Educational Program category for the partnership during NACWA’s Winter Conference in February 2020. Congratulations to AlexRenew and everyone involved!