Betsy Otto

Global Water Director, World Resources Institute

Over the past several years at the World Resources Institute, Betsy Otto has led development of Aqueduct™, a global water risk assessment and mapping tool to inform private and public sector investment and water management decisions. Otto works with the Water Program team to develop and apply tools and information, and to engage business, NGOs and governments for positive change in managing water resources worldwide. She also works with staff across WRI to incorporate water considerations and sustainable solutions for cities, energy, governance, finance, and climate adaptation purposes.

Otto has over 20 years of experience working on water resource management, ecosystem protection, and urban water systems. Over the past two decades, she has worked to promote sound land and water planning and urban water infrastructure systems that incorporate upstream ecosystem services, green infrastructure designs in cities, and integrate drinking water, stormwater and wastewater management. Prior to joining WRI, Otto developed successful clean water and water supply programs for American Rivers in Washington, DC, where she worked closely with mayors, utilities, federal agencies and Congress to promote smart water policies and drive public and private investment toward more sustainable water infrastructure solutions.

Otto earned a Masters in Water Resources Management from the University of Wisconsin’s Nelson Institute, a MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, and a BA in Economics from the University of Illinois. From 2006-2007, she was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, where she studied international water management, urban infrastructure, and water and sanitation issues.

Podcast Guest Appearances

Flooding in America

Jul 28 2020 - 12:00pm

“We had one of the snowiest winters on record in Lincoln and Omaha,” reports Martha Shulski of the Nebraska Climate Office. She’s describing the weather conditions and events that led to what has become known as the “Great Flood of 2019.”

“2019 was actually one of the wettest years on record for the upper Midwest,” Shulski continues. “Snowpack sitting on the ground, lots of ice in the rivers.  So the conditions were ripe such that when we did get that strong storm system move across the country...the setup was there.”