NACWA’s StratComm shines spotlight on utility communication and outreach

On June 3-4, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) hosted its third annual Strategic Communications:H2O (StratComm) conference in Cleveland, Ohio, highlighting outreach and communication in the U.S. water and wastewater utility sector.

The conference drew more than 120 national participants, the most so far for this fairly new event. This year, StratComm took on the theme of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Cuyahoga River Fire, a significant event in the clean water sector’s history that helped set the stage for the Clean Water Act.

The media coverage that came with the river being so polluted that it shockingly caught fire, also led to the founding of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and cast new light on the importance of environmental protection and resilience for America’s waterways.

The anniversary is also the basis of a media campaign being conducted by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, which served as a host for the conference.

At StratComm, executives from top private communications firms, along with utility communicators and non-profit groups, presented high value content in the key areas that clean water utilities need in order to build or enhance strategic communications platforms: branding, customer relations, crisis communications, media relations, internal communications and even workforce recruiting.

Attendees were also treated to the “clean water rock stars,” The H2duo, whose presentation 30 Ideas in 30 Minutes outlined 30 of the latest trends and ideas that are on the cutting edge of water sector marketing and communications today.

RELATED — Communicating the Value of Water: The ABCS of Water Communication

As hosts of the popular Water in Real Life Podcast, Stephanie Zavala and Arianne Shipley also recorded a podcast with NACWA Board Members and committee leaders in attendance.

Attendees also networked and made connections that continue to build a unified clean water sector communicators group nationwide. StratComm continues to build water sector unity, collaboration and impact, as it sets the benchmarks for effective water utility communications and marketing.

Throughout the month of June, the City of Cleveland has been marking the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire. Dozens of community partners are hosting a series of clean water events. Learn more at

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