Q&A WE&RF-WRF Integration (Phase 1/Pre-1/1/18)

Q: What is the vision for the new foundation?

A: It will be the premier not-for-profit research cooperative advancing the science of water to protect public health and the environment; governed principally by utilities delivering scientifically sound research solutions and knowledge to serve subscribers and stakeholders in all areas of drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and reuse. The new foundation will have approximately 1,200 subscribers, 2,300 research studies, and a $700M portfolio.

Q: What are the benefits of integration?

A: For the water community, the integration offers a stronger, broader, more interconnected research agenda with greater value and services to subscribers and funders. We are stronger together. Specifically, the integrated organization will (1) provide the water community with access to an expanded collection of water research, (2) leverage funding more successfully, (3) share a greater knowledge base, and (4) more effectively communicate new results and research needs with federal and state regulators. 

There is much value to be derived from our expanded research cooperative with the following new and upcoming subscriber benefits:

The value of the integration to our subscribers now includes the world’s largest One Water knowledge base. By leveraging research funding among over 1,200 subscribers, a greater number of research projects and initiatives can be undertaken. In 2018 alone, we have 310 active projects representing over $57 million of research.


Q: When will the integration be complete?

A: The two organizations will be officially integrated on January 1, 2018. The new organization will be led by a single Board of Directors comprised of the directors from the two organizations with Co-Chairs Chuck Murray and Kevin Shafer and CEO Rob Renner. The integrated Board of Directors will address solicitation and selection of leadership of the organization as well as other strategic decisions in 2018.

Q: What will the integrated organization be called?

A: The integrated organization will be “The Water Research Foundation.”

Q: Will the research portfolio change as a result of the integration?

A: The integrated foundation will advance a One Water research portfolio that will be a resource for the entire water sector. We will continue to conduct the research that is most important to all our subscribers. 

The Board is dedicated to ensuring that research dollars are applied to the research programs our subscribers value the most. We have defined two key research programs through which we will manage approximately 80% of the 2019 funds. To achieve this, we will launch:

  • The Research Priority Program. This program will address broadly relevant subscriber issues and challenges through focused, sustained (multi-year) research efforts.
  • The Tailored Collaboration Program. This program will target regional or subscriber-specific research needs that have broader sector application. The new program will maintain the matching elements of the previous programs (up to $100k), and incorporate a more competitive application process as opposed to a first-come basis. This will ensure highest priority and transformative research needs are addressed.

Additional research programs including Unsolicited, Emerging Opportunities, Facilitated Research, Tailored Collaborative, and Partnership will continue to be available in 2019 and open to all subscribers to partner, participate, and engage in.

Q: Will dues and subscription rates change as a result of the integration?

A: We are requesting that our subscribers continue to support us through 2018 at their current levels. To accomplish the goals of the combined research cooperative, the Board reviewed the research needs and subscription rates in tandem. The goal of the 2019 rate structure is to provide a framework for a sustainable and equitable subscription program. Additional details on the rate structure will be shared in separate communications.

Q: Will volunteer opportunities change as a result of the integration?

A: Volunteers from the water sector provide the backbone of our organizations. We will continue to depend on volunteers to participate in our leadership, research programs, research projects, and through other avenues.

Q: Will the integration have an impact on existing partnerships with other organizations?

A: Both foundations have a history of successful partnerships with many other organizations. We anticipate that these partnerships will flourish through the integrated foundation.

Q: Will integration delay the start of near-term research projects?

A: No. All funded research projects will continue on schedule as planned.

Q: Will the in-kind contribution approach continue?

A: In-kind contributions and matches are one of the many keys to the success of both research foundation’s portfolios. Through the transition period, we will work to clarify this and any other questions regarding research program operations.

Q: Have you discussed the integration with the major funding agencies such as EPA, USBR, NSF, or DOE?

A: We anticipate that funding agencies will welcome the integrated organization and the integration will reduce confusion.

Q: Will the integrated organization maintain two offices?

A: Two offices will be maintained, with the headquarters in Denver, CO and an office in Alexandria, VA.

Q: Why was this integration successful now compared to two years ago?

A: In the time since the last integration discussions, the sector has made substantial progress towards One Water, making the integration of the two foundations even more imperative. The due diligence completed during the first round of conversations led to a much easier path towards approval and integration.

Q: Who should we contact with further questions?

A: The Chairs of each Board of Directors are able to answer questions, or the CEOs of either organization. 

Kevin L. Shafer, P.E.
Co-Chair, WE&RF Board of Directors
Metro Milwaukee Sewerage District
Milwaukee, WI

Charles M. Murray
Chair, WRF Board of Directors
Fairfax Water
Fairfax, VA

Q: Will those with a subscription to one organization but not both have full access to the integrated portfolio?

A: Access to an expanded collection of research is one of the values of this integration.