Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the results of its fifth Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment. The survey identifies and assesses the nation’s water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years, which include thousands of miles of new pipes and treatment plants, storage tanks and water distribution systems.
The survey findings show that our nation’s water systems need an estimated $384 billion in improvements by 2030 for them to continue to produce and deliver safe drinking water to 297 million Americans, which is critical not only for public health but also for our economy. No business can be started or maintained without a safe and reliable water supply.
Water Industry experts agree that in order to maintain sustainable water and wastewater systems for the future, not only do we need operational efficiency, expertise and technological innovation, but also capital investment.
According to Brent Fewell, Senior Vice President, Environment Health and Safety at United Water, “the recipe for failure is when the perceived risks of failure exceed the perceived benefits of success. The recipe for success is changing recipes.” United Water’s SOLUTION℠ business model addresses the water infrastructure challenge and is an example of the type of innovative, effective and scalable “recipe” that can ensure sustainable water systems.
SOLUTION℠ was first implemented late last year by the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority and a joint venture created by United Water and financial partner Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts (KKR). Since our partnership with Bayonne, we have eliminated nearly $125M of municipal debt and continue to implement full management, innovation and operational best practices and make capital investments – approx. $110M over 40-years – to modernize Bayonne’s water, sewer and storm water system.
At United Water, we believe that there is an urgent need for our nation to invest in water and wastewater systems and address the decades of underinvestment that has pushed systems to the breaking point. It’s imperative that we continue to identify creative alternatives to address this problem and sustainably manage our water systems – a resource essential for life.