Water sector reacts to report card grades

water_drop_01Last week, the American Society of Civil Engineers released its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, with many segments and sectors of the nation’s infrastructure received near-failing grades, including drinking water and wastewater systems. The 2017 report card graded drinking water a D and wastewater a D+. The US Water Alliance released the following statement in response:

“Water is essential to everything we do,” Radhika Fox, CEO of the US Water Alliance said. “Every community in the country relies on drinking water and wastewater service, and many sectors of our economy are completely reliant on water as well. A D and D+ are daunting grades, but I am optimistic about our future because I see the innovative work of the members of the US Water Alliance every day.”

Fox continued: “I want to thank the ASCE for its steadfast work to shine a light on the incredibly important issue of infrastructure investment. It was a topic that was overlooked for far too long, but we believe is starting to get the attention it deserves. This report reinforces the fact that we need to make reinvesting in water a national priority.”

Michael Deane, executive director of the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), released a statement following the report card’s release.

“While the nation’s water infrastructure faces significant challenges, the National Association of Water Companies’ member utilities work diligently with their respective state economic regulators to ensure rates for water service support the investment needed to meet all water quality and environmental standards and provide the service that customers expect and deserve,” Deane said in the statement. “NAWC’s members look forward to helping more communities across the country to ‘improve their grades.’

Services provided by water utilities are more than twice as capital-intensive as electricity and telecommunication utilities, and nearly three times as capital-intensive as natural gas. The EPA forecasts capital needs of $600 billion over the next 20 years to upgrade pipes, treatment facilities, storage facilities, and other assets for drinking and wastewater systems. Many communities faced with the financial challenges of paying for needed water infrastructure improvements can access federal programs. Because these federal programs can sometimes be limited in scope, having access to private capital for public water infrastructure projects is also a viable option.

Private operators can help communities. Private water companies have a stellar drinking water quality compliance record. The operational disciplines of the private water sector have provided communities with the necessary economies of scale, efficiencies, expertise, and application of new technologies to help overcome water challenges.

Private water companies have served this nation for more than 200 years and have a long history of reliably providing quality water service. The water challenges facing this nation and affirmed by ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report make it clear that communities need to consider multiple solutions to the water challenges.”

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