As the Paris climate talks concluded this month, the White House convened a summit to discuss domestic water policy. The conference, known as the White House Roundtable on Water Innovation, was held to unite public and private sectors in developing innovative, “all-in” approaches that strengthen the country’s water resiliency. Approximately 90 water management professionals – representing various regulatory agencies, universities, NGOs, and private-sector companies – were invited to attend the event.  Among them was Sustainable Water’s CEO, Jonathan Lanciani.
The conference began with key speakers from various governmental departments discussing three main topics:
- Challenges to Increase Innovation in Water Technology and Markets;
- Current and Future Water Supply Challenges; and,
- Technology as a Solution.
Keynote speakers included director and advisor level staff at the Office of Management and Budget, Department of the Interior, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey and the White House. John Holdren, President Obama’s Science and Technology Advisor, gave the opening address at the roundtable event. Holdren summarized many of the water stresses facing the United States today, which include “extreme drought, torrential flooding, and aging water infrastructure” among others. With regard to the latter, Holdren pointed out that 16% of the country’s water is lost through aged, leaky infrastructure – equating to the water demand of the ten largest U.S. cities. 
“Fortunately, we have a way to respond,” said Ali Zaidi, the White House Office Management and Budget’s Associate Director for Natural Resources, “Through innovation, we can pioneer the solutions and technologies that are going to help us adapt.”  Zaidi’s comments set the stage for a panel discussion on technological solutions that address water-related challenges. A series of breakout sessions were then held on varying topics, including new financial models and game-changing innovations for new supplies of water.
USA Today reports that the conference formally kicked-off a new strategy by the White House to promote private sector involvement in resolving water challenges.  The strategy, called “moonshot for water”, is setting out to:
- Increase water sustainability and security by utilizing technology to conserve and reuse water; and,
- Invest in research and development to make water technology more energy efficient and cost effective.
“The private sector, when faced with a challenge, can be pretty innovative when coming up with solutions” said Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior.  As a result, the White House is offering $20 million in water and energy efficacy grants through the WaterSMART Grant Program. Projects that “conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, benefit endangered and threatened species, facilitate water markets, carry out activities to address climate-related impacts on water or prevent any water-related crisis” are qualified to receive grant funding. 
The Roundtable discussion gained national attention, as many of the issues addressed are long standing problems domestically. During her keynote address, Jewell concluded: “It’s going to take some bold action and it’s going to take some collaboration because we don’t have enough water in the places that we need it most; and, I think it’s fair to say that when it begins to impact the economies, it wakes everybody up.”
 The White House. Round Table on Water Innovation. The White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/live
 Korte, Gregory and James, Ian. White House launches ‘moonshot for water.’ USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/12/15/obama-administration-launches-all-out-push-water/77356070/