Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Our Commitment to Confront Racial Inequities

Our nation’s collective failure to recognize the systemic and institutional racism in the United States is unacceptable. The Covid-19 pandemic has only compounded and revealed the vast inequities so many of our fellow citizens face. The onus is on us as stewards of our community and our environment to combat these injustices.  

We do not claim to know how to completely reverse the centuries of trauma caused by racism in America, but we do know that our words alone will never be enough. We need to do the work—to listen to our colleagues and neighbors of color, to reflect on our own privilege and positionality within our society and our institution, to engage in these difficult conversations. 

At the Water Center, we are committed to making our communities and institutions more diverse, equitable, and inclusive places to live, work, learn, play, and prosper—for our generation and for generations to come.


We pledge:

To make diversity, equity, and inclusion* fundamental tenets of our business plan, team composition, group training and development, and workplace culture. We strive to embody these values in all of our external activities with various communities, stakeholders, colleagues, and students/faculty

To pursue true environmental justice—to continue to work toward making our urban rivers and streams fishable, swimmable, drinkable, safe, attractive, and accessible to communities that have not historically had access to water resources due to race, income or other disadvantages

To continue the fight to secure drinking water as a human right. All communities need water that is accessible, affordable, healthy, and safe, particularly vulnerable communities where lack of safe affordable drinking water exacerbates other injustices

Equity and fairness will serve as the foundation of our work as we tackle issues such as climate change, urban flooding, basement back-ups, sewage overflows, lead pipe replacement, infrastructure funding, and the clean-up of hazardous sites

To recognize the historical and systemic roots of racism and understand its connections to our current day urban water system challenges

To respect our communities, their lived experiences, and their priorities as we work to address inequities in education, crime, poverty, health, and housing through the Water Center’s lens of urban resilience, sustainability, and—above all else—water

To foster and help grow diversity in the professional water sector so that the next generation of water/wastewater utility leaders better reflects, understands and supports the populations they serve and leadership in the water sector as a whole is more diverse, inclusive and understanding of the soft skills needed to manage large-scale change

To expose long accepted systemic inequities through educational programming accessible to learners of all ages and backgrounds including programs in underserved schools in the Philadelphia area, programs for adult learners in underprivileged communities, development of a diverse and culturally inclusive water curriculum at Penn designed to inspire and mentor the next generation, and seminars, lectures, publications and case studies designed to incite action to address these inequities


We take these statements seriously. We will continue to work in earnest to fulfill this pledge every day through our words, actions and deeds. If you share our commitment to confront racial inequities in your work, please join us and help us move toward a more just, fair and equitable society together.



*We recognize that diversity, equity and inclusion are in fact separate and distinct goals.  While we strive to incorporate all three into our planning, work and culture, we feel it is important to define them separately as follows:

Diversity – ensure that as broad a cohort of races, religions, ethnicities, incomes, environmental experiences, physical abilities, sexual orientation and gender is brought together as possible in our organization, planning, and projects 

Equity – ensure that our organization, processes and projects promote equity; impartiality and fairness for all team members, project partners, collaborators and communities and that our work outcomes deliver equitable outcomes s for all 

Inclusion – ensure collective sharing of a wide range of perspectives, voices, and experiences in our decision-making processes within our organization as well as in our projects in order to create outcomes that provide maximum benefit to a