Public investment – minus the politics

Public investment – minus the politics

By Bertrand Camus, United Water CEO  Forty years ago this month, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect public health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply. This milestone, which helps ensure that clean, fresh water flows from every tap in America, was created by a shared sense of political vision. Today, that progress is at risk from lack of political ambition to finance infrastructure projects. Ever since November’s mid-term elections, President Obama has worked to put investment in America’s roads, bridges and water systems back on the agenda as a priority that elected officials of all stripes can naturally get behind, saying: “Both parties have been for creating jobs rebuilding our infrastructure.” Visiting China, early December, he marveled at how major construction projects happen. “One thing is that if they need to build some stuff, they can build it,” he said. America can build it, too… Read the complete article on how we can accelerate investment in water infrastructure by tapping untapped funding resources on The Hill Congress Blog:...
United Water and KKR to Bring Water and Sewer Investments to Borough of Middletown, PA

United Water and KKR to Bring Water and Sewer Investments to Borough of Middletown, PA

We are pleased to announce that we will expand our services in Pennsylvania and become part of the growing Middletown Community. We recently announced a partnership with the Borough Authority of Middletown, PA for management and operations of the borough’s water and wastewater system, together with KKR, a leading global investment firm. We already operate five water treatment facilities and over 20 wells serving a population of more than 166,000 people in portions of eight Pennsylvania counties. Our Pennsylvania headquarters are conveniently located in the capital city of Harrisburg. A United Water team dedicated exclusively to Middletown will operate the system for a 50-year term. This partnership marks a growing trend in the U.S. for delivering infrastructure renewal projects for essential public services by drawing upon the strengths and balancing the needs of multiple sectors; both public and private. This joint venture is similar to one that United Water began with the Municipal Utilities Authority in Bayonne, NJ in 2012. The partnership in Bayonne has already delivered valuable infrastructure investments and customer service improvements. Other towns that have created similar partnerships in the recent past include: Rialto, CA and Allentown, PA. Some key features of the Middletown SOLUTION agreement include: • An initial payment to the Middletown Borough Authority of $43 million, which will be used to eliminate the Authority’s existing debt, pension liability and improve its finances. • $83 million worth of infrastructure improvements over the life of the contract. • The Middletown Borough Authority will maintain ownership of the water and wastewater system and will provide oversight of the partnership and its adherence to high quality standards...

Infrastructure Week: Defining a new economic vision for America’s infrastructure

May 12-16 is Infrastructure Week across the United States.  Discussions among the public, private and political sector will ensue over how to collaborate among sectors that haven’t traditionally worked together; how to innovate in the face of scarce public dollars; and most of all, how to pay for the trillions of dollars of infrastructure upgrades that are needed to maintain this country’s competitive economic edge. “How to pay for it” is an age-old question.  And the good news is that healthy levels of investment may be available to cities that choose to partner with the private sector to leverage private capital. After United Water’s first SOLUTION partnership in Bayonne, NJ was launched last year, leaders and pundits alike recognized that cities actually can, unlock the value of city assets and access the kind of money that Bayonne did through a public-private partnership.  This particular model had never been tried in the U.S. before, although it has been widely used with success across the globe. In exchange for a 40-year concession with the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, United Water and KKR agreed to pay off $125 million of the utility’s debt, invest nearly $110 million to modernize the system, retrain and bolster the utility’s staff, and eventually save the utility an estimated $35 million over the lifetime of the contract, based on the city’s analysis. KKR issued a recent report that demystifies the lingering questions on “how” to pay and addresses “who” would be a successful candidate for this option.  According to the authors from KKR and the Brookings Institution, there are 5 key criteria for success: “Strong candidates for successful PPPs...