Pennsylvania’s commitment to infrastructure investment benefits environment, economy

Pennsylvania’s commitment to infrastructure investment benefits environment, economy

  Pennsylvania’s state leadership got it right. When Governor Corbett announced the availability of $41.7 million in loans for water infrastructure earlier this year, he was quoted as follows: “The investments that we make today in our environment and economy will improve the quality of life for Pennsylvanians in all corners of the Commonwealth.” In addition to the State’s leadership, Pennsylvania has several water companies that are also able to finance water investments. United Water will do our part, in partnership with the state and communities where we do business, to invest nearly $46 million over the next 5 years in the areas we serve – for reliability purposes. Our customers in several communities including Bloomsburg, Mechanicsburg, Dallas, Hummelstown and the suburbs of Harrisburg will benefit from these reliability investments. Our improvement initiatives are especially timely as changing weather patterns make infrastructure ever more vulnerable to the whims of nature. It should come as no surprise that states which prioritize public investments and seek public-private solutions are able to attract more money than those that don’t. Pennsylvania has not been complacent with the state of its infrastructure for quite some time. A line of Pennsylvania Governors have lead on this issue. In fact, since 1996 Pennsylvania has utilized an infrastructure replacement financing program, a rate mechanism, that has effectively directed private companies like United Water to proactively make major investments to the oldest underground water pipes that are most vulnerable and most likely to cause water main breaks, degradation in water quality and service disruptions. Several states – most recently New Jersey – followed Pennsylvania by enacting a similar program...
United Water supports Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act

United Water supports Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act

In support of the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Act—legislation that would stimulate private sector investment in water infrastructure by modifying the tax code—United Water participated in a press event on June 2 alongside bill sponsors Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), who each emphasized the need for this change. In the background, United Water construction crews worked to replace a broken underground valve leading to a 24-inch main that provides water to Cliffside Park residents. When the crew reached the valve, a ten-foot high jet of water shot out of the ground, creating mayhem as businessmen and members of the press frantically scrambled to avoid being sprayed by the geyser. Ironically, this reaffirmed the need for increased investment in the nation’s water infrastructure. “It seems like every week a pipe bursts somewhere in New Jersey, destroying property and disrupting lives,” Sen. Menendez said. “We’ve under-invested in our infrastructure, certainly we’ve underinvested in water systems, and now we’re paying the price.  These systems are old and badly degraded.  Many of them are waiting to fail, and they need to be fixed.” The bill, which sponsors will propose alongside a highway funding act, would remove caps on issuing private activity bonds (PAB) for water and wastewater projects. It comes at a time when the American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s water infrastructure a D-rating, as some of it has been in place for almost a century. Passage of the bill would benefit local economies, both by providing jobs and by preventing unplanned infrastructure shutdowns that could disrupt commerce. “Our common sense solution not only invests in...
United Water’s SOLUTION goes to business school

United Water’s SOLUTION goes to business school

We know that American cities and towns need to invest hundreds of billions of dollars – between $400 billion and $1 trillion to be exact – in their public water and sewer systems. And we know that investors are keen on investing in efficiently operated systems that will provide a steady return. That fact is what brought us to University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School, one of the most prestigious business schools in the country, to discuss how we can collectively make more public-private partnerships work for water. Panelists at the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership conference suggested that it is a moral imperative upon which the sustainability of cities hinges, to find ways for the public and private sector to work together in planning and financing to begin tackling the ever-widening investment and thereby sustainability gap. With water projects, as with any public initiative, public support is a key ingredient for success. Financial capital, in many cases, is more readily available than political capital. Implied in the name, the success of “public-private partnerships” depends on striking an appropriate balance between the interests of uncommon allies by providing for a return on investments while safeguarding the public interest. And the many municipal leaders who are considering a public-private partnership should expect to engage the public and various interest groups in the plan at many levels. A new model – recently used in Bayonne, NJ by United Water – emerged as a viable option for meeting the needs of both public and private partners. The architects of the SOLUTION model simply built it upon the financial and political lessons of...
Investing in New Jersey’s Infrastructure for Reliability

Investing in New Jersey’s Infrastructure for Reliability

Historic underinvestment in out-of-sight, out-of-mind water infrastructure has contributed to a dramatic state of disrepair across the nation. Much of our nation’s infrastructure was laid in the late 1800’s. According to the U.S. EPA, $354 billion is needed nationwide to revitalize our essential water infrastructure. New Jersey is no exception. A report by Facing Our Future, a bipartisan group projects that $7.9 billion needs to be invested in New Jersey’s water infrastructure over the next five years. Between 20 and 22 percent of the state’s treated drinking water is lost long before it’s delivered to households and businesses. And with ever-changing weather patterns, New Jersey’s infrastructure is becoming more vulnerable to natural disasters. In New Jersey, United Water is preparing to tackle the infrastructure challenge by investing nearly $220 million over the next three years. Similar levels of investment are available to city systems that choose to leverage private capital in partnership with United Water. A majority of United Water’s investment in New Jersey will be dedicated to the oldest and most difficult to reach pipes that are most vulnerable and most likely to cause water main breaks, degradation in water quality and service disruptions. Our goal, simply put, is to systematically renew the underground backbone of the state and thereby make essential water service even more reliable. State-of-the-art metering technology is being installed at the homes and businesses of many United Water customers in New Jersey. These investments enable the implementation of a smarter water network which can help water users better understand, control and manage their water use. Smarter meters will provide an additional tool to the...
Safety First: Call in before digging in

Safety First: Call in before digging in

  It’s beginning to look a lot like springtime! And that means it’s time to work outdoors and tackle many “do it yourself” DIY projects around the house and neighborhood. Are you planning a home improvement job? Planting a tree? Installing a fence or deck? Hiring a contractor? Wait! Here’s what you need to know first! Water main breaks and other service disruptions are frequently caused by contractors who made haste to do a job and neglected to call 8-1-1 to locate underground cable, fiber optic, gas, electric, water or sewer lines before digging.  Don’t be THAT person! 811 is a smart and easy way to avoid water main break, an electrical outage or sometimes worse; a gas accident. You can dial 8-1-1 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to breaking ground, and your call will be routed to your local “One-Call”  Center. An operator will walk you through the process and then send a locator to mark the approximate location of your underground lines, pipes and cables. It is as easy as it sounds and it can keep you and your neighbors safe! We do our part by calling 811 in order to prevent damage to underground utility infrastructure and to ensure public safety and environmental protection when we work. We’re making many upgrades to our infrastructure throughout the country.  We are well on our way to investing $1 billion in infrastructure over the next 5 years and we are becoming a frequent caller.  We are committed to “Doing it Right,” working safely and preventing risks. For more information on your local One Call Center, or...