About Us

Our story begins at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, where the Faculty Director, Mark Alan Hughes, first discussed the Energy / Water nexus with Howard Neukrug, PE, the recently retired CEO/Commissioner of Philadelphia Water…




We recognize that the water world is often very complex, fragmented, and fought over. By connecting our water researchers across Penn, we can leverage our capacity as a great water university in a great water city.  The University of Pennsylvania has the reputation and intellectual capacity to house a water policy and science research center in an environment that is nurturing, safe, and trusted among a wide variety of stakeholders and interests.

Penn is now deepening its commitment to tackling important regional and global water issues by establishing this new, transdisciplinary research center for water policy, science, and technology. By leveraging existing efforts across departments, programs, and schools at Penn, and by facilitating a relationship between Penn faculty, water industry, and environmental and city leaders, the Water Center at Penn is ready to set new global standards for excellence in research and action to address the biggest challenges facing urban water sustainability.

Our goal is to grow the Water Center at Penn into a preeminent water policy, science, and technology institute that engages Penn faculty and students with the broader academic, business, and local communities on the global water issues of our time – from drought to flood, from idea to innovation to implementation, from green to grey infrastructure, from policy to technology. 

We will connect regional and national thought leaders to find real-world solutions to our shared water challenges and import/export our knowledge and technology globally through the growing network of international water “hubs”.

At the University of Pennsylvania


The University’s Philadelphia location is at the heart of one of the world’s leading cities in sustainable water innovation, research, and policy development.

The Greater Philadelphia region holds the headquarters to three of the world’s largest water companies (American Water Works Company, Suez Water, and AQUA American Water) and the large public water utilities of Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington DC are among the world’s most innovative public utilities. Forming The Water Center in Philadelphia along the Delaware River and sandwiched between the Hudson and Chesapeake Rivers will open new opportunities for the right water thought leaders to be involved in, support, and learn from integrative water research efforts.

Philadelphia is well positioned to continue to drive a national and global model for urban water sustainability and resilience.

Bringing together regional experts and thought leaders can exponentially increase our ability to develop and export leadership in water technology and best practices, public-private reinvention, engineering and integrating city systems, landscape architecture, green infrastructure technology, public policy, community outreach, water affordability, equity and more.

Penn has already invested millions of dollars managing its campus’ water resources. 

The University designed and built some of the most innovative examples of green roofs (Neural & Behavioral Sciences Building) and rain gardens (Shoemaker Green). Recently, Penn has extended its campus to cross the Schuylkill River and is a major sponsor for the return of access, safety, aesthetics and improved water quality to this major water body.  University City has similarly implemented significant water system innovations throughout West Philadelphia.  The Water Center will work to ensure that students are exposed to wide-ranging research and community-based service learning opportunities



The Water Center at Penn supports the resiliency, sustainability and equity of urban water systems through guidance, assistance and by directing applied collaborative research



Our vision is to be the preeminent center that provides integrated real-world solutions to critical urban water problems

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