Nature’s role in resilient water supplies – utility and regulator perspectives

IWA Nature-based Solutions

Target Audience

River Basin Authorities, water resource managers, governmental officials at city or regional levels and utility planners. Other stakeholders with a background in water management, water supply and wastewater planning or river basin management.


Showcasing water utility experiences and sharing knowledge will support effective policy-making and regulation to accelerate the adoption of NBS in water management. IWA and TNC are catalysing action between water utilities and their regulators by bringing these lessons and guidance into tangible practice among network members.

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is a water reclamation and flood management service provider in the state of Wisconsin. After years of being viewed as a polluter rather than a protector of the environment, MMSD’s Executive Director Kevin Shafer decided it was time to change the utility’s image, as well as their approach to water security.

MMSD’s robust portfolio of nature-based solutions involve green infrastructure projects such as rain gardens, rain barrels, green roofs, bioswales and rainwater harvesting, as well as watershed management projects that invest in soil health, wetland maintenance and restoration. Solving Milwaukee’s water quality challenges while shifting negative public perceptions required a multi-faceted approach, centered on the notion that residents can play a vital role in improving water quality. MMSD’s strategic investments in water management have gained national and international recognition. They have crafted strong relationships with environmental regulatory agencies, the agriculture sector and local community to ensure the long-term impact of their NBS initiatives.

Learning Objectives

Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the practical implementation of NBS from a water utility perspective and be incentivized to consider the benefits of investing in these approaches for water security. The discussion will share lessons on effective multi-stakeholder engagement strategies, particularly in relation to building alliances with watershed stakeholders and customers. The webinar will also discuss the regulatory mechanisms which facilitate investment in natural infrastructure, focusing specifically on the regulatory environment in the United States.

Following the webinar, participants will be able to:

• Recognize how NBS can present a cost-effective alternative to conventional grey infrastructure upgrades for improving water quality.
• Recognize the co-benefits of NBS for water management and how to incorporate these metrics into business cases.
• Leverage new strategies for outreach and engagement with farming communities, non-profits and regulatory agencies to support the successful implementation of NBS projects.


IWA & The Nature Conservancy


  • Sarah Gatzke Director of Resource Sustainability, The Nature Conservancy
  • Peter C. Wood Water Resources Engineer, Department of Natural Resources - State of Wisconsin
  • Breanne Plier Manager of Sustainability, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District