Diversity & Culture of Inclusion


A focus on inclusion and diversity is critical for the proposed SOW ERC. The central purpose of the SOW ERC is to deepen water sector industry and community integration to foster the SOW Paradigm. This requires understanding all water stakeholders and their water usage and needs.

Topics Discussed

Vision of Smart One Water (SOW)

  • Does SOW present a VISION that could be transformative for the water sectors?

  • Do you agree that the implied outcome, a holistic view of a SOW digital system, could then inform policy, governance, and even future designs?

  • What VALUE does the vision of the SOW offer to your organization? Please also identify tangible benefits to your organization and its stakeholders?

  • How do you foresee the execution of the SOW vision within your own organization? Please also identify barriers that you expect your organization to face, which may impede the successful adoption of the SOW vision?

  • Can you identify scenarios for the communities and regions you serve that illustrate how the vision of SOW technologies could be delivered for one water services?

Diversity and Culture of Inclusion for the SOW Implementation

  • Who are the Smart One Water (SOW) stakeholders?

  • What are different types of diversity in SOW?

  • What does the Water Utility of the Future look like?

  • What is our strategy to make sure that we are bringing everyone along?

  • How to engage stakeholders in the decision-making process and operations of ERC?

  • What are existing programs and initiatives related to Diversity and Inclusion?

Path forward for the NSF-ERC SOW

  • How many additional workshops should be organized by the ERC, moving forward

  • What should be the themes for the future workshops?

  • Who should be invited for these workshops?

Key Findings

The Importance of equity when considering water services for the population cannot be overlooked. The broad range of stakeholders in SOW represent a wide array of community types, locations, sizes and economic status. SOW must always consider the impact the variety exhibited in each of these characteristics has on the different challenges facing each unique community. Clean water is essential to human health and wellbeing; however, we also know that different communities have different levels of water challenges, such as water scarcity and quality. SOW will address the quantity and quality of services offered with a clear eye towards the importance of considering community diversity.

Diversity and Inclusion Workshop Report- Click here to download

Key Presentations

Introduction - Sunil K. Sinha

Dr. Sunil Sinha is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of Sustainable Water Infrastructure Management (SWIM) Center of Excellence at Virginia Tech. Dr. Sunil Sinha is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award recipient in the area of sustainable water infrastructure management systems. Dr. Sinha was seed behind “90-minutes” PBS documentary titled “Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure,” that throws light on a long-buried problem — America’s aging water system. He has given many NPR interviews and featured as a water infrastructure expert in a History Channel documentary titled “The Crumbling of America.”


Diversity and Inclusion - Bevlee A. Watford

Dr. Watford is the Associate Dean for Equity and Engagement and the Executive Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED). The Equity and Engagement office is responsible for the recruitment and retention of diverse students, both undergraduate and graduate. This includes a wide array of programs developed and implemented for precollege students as well as programs supporting the academic, professional and personal development of current students.

2_Watford slides_ERC Meeting.pdf

Diversity in Metropolitan Water Reclamation, Chicago - Ted J. Kosowski

Ted J. Kosowski. is Assistant Director of Human Resources at Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Illinois. Created in 1889 as the Sanitary District of Chicago, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) today is an award-winning, special-purpose district responsible for treating wastewater and providing stormwater management for residents and businesses in its service area, which encompasses 882.1 square miles and includes Chicago and 128 suburban communities throughout Cook County. The MWRD serves approximately 10.35 million people each day, including 5.25 million residents.

3_Kosowski_MWRD - Operating Engineer Trainee Program Presentaion.pdf

Diversity & Inclusion in Water Sector - Ifetayo Venner

Ifetayo Venner is a professional engineer and ARCADIS’s Wastewater Treatment Practice Technical Leader. As a wastewater treatment technical expert she has been responsible for the planning, modeling, design and startup of municipal wastewater treatment facilities throughout the United States. As a project manager she has been responsible for project delivery for various projects related to water and wastewater treatment and distribution. Ms. Venner has been an active proponent of incorporating sustainability principles into design projects. She is a member of the ARCADIS Envision Leadership team, providing training to ARCADIS staff in pursuit of ENV SP credentials, as well as support for project teams in incorporating sustainability principles into projects and evaluating the applicability of Envision and the various credits. She is also involved in several Water Environment Federation (WEF) and International Water Association committees and task forces on wastewater process design, modeling, and sustainability. She is Director of the WEF Sustainability Community of Practice which comprises 7 committees and task forces including the Utility Management Committee and the Envision and Resiliency Task Forces. She is leader of the Wastewater Treatment group under the Envision Task Force which she created to educate WEF members on Envision and to develop Envision guidance specific to wastewater systems (wastewater treatment and reuse, collection systems, stormwater/watersheds, and biosolids) to assist members as they incorporate the use of Envision into projects.

4_Ifetayo_SWIM Diversity and Inclusion in Water.pdf

Please feel free to share your thoughts and/or related documents:

For more details related to workshop please write to us: swimcenter@vt.edu