Partnerships - inH2O


The Infrastructure Network for Water, or inH2O, is a URC collaborative project focused on water infrastructure. It is a pilot to a larger interest in developing a national infrastructure network focused on multiple urban infrastructure systems.

A water pipe made from a wooden log – Courtesy of The Henry Ford Museum Archives


Cities of the future will leverage new technologies, infrastructure, design, and planning techniques to create an economically vital and dynamic community. While change can be incremental, currently transformative actions are needed in order to envision and implement a comprehensive and integrated plan for infrastructure modernization.


The inH2O group held a series of three workshops dedicated to identifying promising models for how Michigan could create a more effective science-to-practice network around national urban infrastructure. Each workshop in this series included public presentations by leading experts the national energy, manufacturing and transportation networks, and working sessions with 30 Water Fellows. The purpose of each workshop was to learn from other successful networks as the inH2O collaborative team seeks to further activate the urban water network.

In November 2017, the group held a two-day colloquium with 75 invited participants from universities, government, nonprofit organizations, and industry, and included the 30 Water Fellows. The gathering produced a series of 22 next steps, including the drafting of a report of the proceedings.

Key Themes and Actions

Colloquium participants identified five key themes to address in order to tackle today’s water infrastructure problems:

  • Sustainability and resilience
  • Equity and environmental justice
  • The food-energy-water nexus
  • Decentralized systems
  • Water reuse

For each theme, participants also discussed what actions would make the most difference to improving water infrastructure. Several common actions emerged from these discussions:

  • Promote a holistic, OneWater approach to water management
  • Educate and engage the public around water infrastructure
  • Develop innovative regulations and incentives at the watershed level to promote sustainable, resilient infrastructure
  • Create data information systems and apply new technologies

The URC and organizers will be following up on next steps. The inH2O group is drafting a report from the colloquium to share with participants and post online. The organizers also plan to continue work on bolstering the network through continued interaction with participants, mapping the existing network, and exploring funding for additional projects. We encourage you to review the list of next steps and do what you can to continue building on the inH2O effort.



For more information, contact Melissa Downs by email, or phone (517) 353-9863.

Image Credit: “Petoskey Waste Water Treatment Facility” by Charles Dawley, Flickr, 2014. All rights reserved to photographer.