Municipal Water Leader Kathryn Sorensen Joins ASU Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute

Kathryn Sorensen, immediate past director of Phoenix Water Services, has joined the ASU’s Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute as director of research.

"It's exciting to be able to bring to ASU my experience leading large municipal water systems," Sorensen said. "Access to clean water is a fundamental need of every person on Earth, and yet we're still so far from fulfilling that need, even in Arizona. I want the research and teaching I do at ASU to help us overcome the barriers that prevent people from having secure access to safe water.”

Sorensen has also been named a professor of practice in the School of Public Affairs, an academic unit of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, and will contribute to the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory.

“Having worked with Dr. Sorensen for more than a decade in both academic and government contexts, I have found her to be both an accomplished water management professional and also an expert scholar,” said Dave White, deputy director of the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation in Global Futures Laboratory. “She will be an invaluable asset to ASU and a leader for the water focal area in GFL.”

"It's exciting to be able to bring to ASU my experience leading large municipal water systems," Sorensen said. "Access to clean water is a fundamental need of every person on Earth, and yet we're still so far from fulfilling that need, even in Arizona. I want the research and teaching I do at ASU to help us overcome the barriers that prevent people from having secure access to safe water.”

As director of Phoenix Water Services, she was responsible for the reliable delivery of safe, clean drinking water in a desert city of nearly 1.7 million inhabitants. She also oversaw the city's wastewater collection system and wastewater treatment for approximately 2.5 million people in the Valley of the Sun.

Before Phoenix, she served as director of the city of Mesa’s Water Resources Department. She joined Mesa in 2000, serving as a water resources manager before being named director. During her time in Mesa, she led the city’s efforts related to the landmark water rights settlements of the Gila River Indian Community and the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

“Kathryn’s leadership has long been at the cutting edge of sustainable, equitable water resource management, and we’re thrilled she’s bringing her policy expertise to ASU,” said Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute. “She will be a valuable resource for water departments across Arizona and the nation.”

Sorensen’s service in water management includes positions as a governor-appointed member of the Arizona Water Banking Authority Commission, member of the Arizona Colorado River Reconsultation Committee, board member of the Water Research Foundation, member of the state of Arizona’s Colorado River Steering Committee, advisory committee member of the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona, board secretary of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Effective Utility Management Leadership Group, and member of the Rates and Charges Subcommittee of the American Water Works Association.

Sorensen has presented on water resources at neighborhood, city, state, federal, and international levels, including testimony before the U.S. Senate on drought and water resilience.

She earned a PhD in agricultural and resource economics from Texas A&M University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan.