I’d like to believe our country is very much aware of the threat to our existing water infrastructure resources, especially after our recent report on water stress and climate variability
. I’m thoroughly unconvinced, however, that many Americans realize the manner in which we’re planning to fix our water problems may be entirely wrong. Read More
A new study conducted by Columbia University shows that U.S. water infrastructure is trapped in a recurring cycle of debt and rate hikes, even while its condition and resilience continues to deteriorate.
The study is one of the first to systematically explore national survey data on water rates. And it reveals that both debt and rates for the nation’s water infrastructure are rising, increasing the financial burden on ratepayers.
Upmanu Lall, the director of Columbia’s Water Center, noted that transparency is the key to achieving water system sustainability. He added that we “need to rethink” the water utility of the future. This includes how users will pay for water services and stimulate sustainable use.
[aside]SEE ALSO: Water in 2050: The Future of Water Requires a Sustainable Path
Some key facts:
- From 2000-2010, average utility debt increased by 33 percent; water rates increased by 23 percent.
- Debt and rates have increased by more than 100 percent at approximately one third of the nation’s utilities surveyed by the American Water Works Association (AWWA)
- The American Society of Civil Engineers ranks the nation’s drinking water infrastructure with a “D” grade, requiring more than $1 trillion in investment over the coming decades.
As shown in the report, increased debt impacts rates, but it does not seem to have resulted in an overall improvement in the nation’s infrastructure. As indicated by the trends noted in the study’s findings, rates will likely go up in the short term.
What the experts say:
“To secure our nation’s water future, our water infrastructure must meet our current realities and challenges.” – Upmanu Lall, director of Columbia University’s Water Center
“The problem of escalating debt and rising rates is not a problem limited to a handful of poorly managed utilities, but includes many well-run utilities. Many of today’s water managers are operating in an old framework that needs to be re-examined for the 21st
century.” – Ed Pinero, Veolia Environnement’s North American head of sustainability
The American Water Summit is one of the most important water-related events of the year for anyone involved with the water sector at a senior level. The event includes many networking opportunities and focuses on making a better future for water in America. It will include engaging panel discussions, covering topics such as emerging water finance models, delivery and performance contracts, upcoming water and wastewater technology trends, sustainable action at utilities, investing in water, and much more. Read More
Desalination is now part of mainstream water resource management in many parts of the world, and a key industry focus has been reducing the amount energy required for various desalination processes. Read More