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...

Innovating for Water’s Future Roundtable – Opportunities and Solutions for Innovation

The U.S. Water Alliance (USWA) and the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) recently convened a roundtable of industry leaders to discuss ways to promote the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies within the water industry. “Innovating for Water’s Future” was an all day event consisting of three sessions, including an in-depth discussion on opportunities and solutions to innovation. During this session water and wastewater equipment manufacturers, municipalities and public works officials discussed and shared their point-of-view on the biggest opportunities for innovation. According to the findings of a recent survey conducted by WWEMA, the top five opportunities for manufacturers to innovate are: Employ full-cost pricing of water Using “value based” versus “or equal” procurement procedures Address permitting requirements Establish a federal guarantee program for technology replacement Prioritize low cost of ownership in the selection of technologies During the session Federal regulators also offered their perspective on opportunities and solutions for encouraging new technologies. According to the regulators, innovation and new technologies is a priority, not only because of the potential implications for public health and the environment, but also because the development of such new technologies is good for U.S. exports and helps to maintain the nation’s trade surplus. The federal regulators offered some examples of innovation the federal government has developed and/or recognized through awards programs, including a smart phone application with a sensor that provides real-time water quality data; the SWIM, a storm water data calculator; and a pipe leak-detection product currently in use as a pilot program by the Department of Defense. One way the federal government supports innovation is through the...

Innovating for Water’s Future Roundtable – Challenges and Barriers to Innovation

The U.S. Water Alliance (USWA) and the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) recently convened a roundtable of industry leaders to discuss ways to promote the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies within the water industry. “Innovating for Water’s Future” was an all day event consisting of three sessions and began with an in-depth discussion on challenges and barriers to innovation. During this session water and wastewater equipment manufacturers, municipalities and public works officials discussed and shared their point-of-view on the biggest barriers to innovation. According to the findings of a recent survey conducted by WWEMA, the top five barriers to innovation for manufacturers are: The risk-averse nature of the industry The low cost of water Procurement methods that give preference to low cost vs. lowest cost of ownership; Complicated state permitting requirements Buy American restrictions This discussion also focused on the barriers to innovation from the standpoint of municipalities, who are dealing with steep increases in water expenditures. Between 2001 and 2010, local governments spent $864 billion on public water (including both capital expenditures and operations/maintenance). Municipalities continue to face challenges such as such as inflation; population growth and expansion; uncertainty about the economy; and the possibility of a cap being placed on tax-exempt bond financing. Most of these challenges are out of the control of cities and counties, which make it difficult for municipalities to meet their water demands, never mind innovate. The biggest challenge from public work directors’ perspective was the challenge of upgrading facilities without disrupting the community and their own operations. Dismantling, construction and installation of new technologies without interruption of...
Industry Leaders Convene to Discuss Water Innovation

Industry Leaders Convene to Discuss Water Innovation

The U.S. Water Alliance (USWA) and the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) recently convened a roundtable of industry leaders to discuss ways to promote the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies within the water industry. More than 60 policy makers, regulators, manufacturers and industry stakeholders, including Brent Fewell, Senior Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety at United Water and Chair of the U.S. Water Alliance’s Business Advisory Council, attended the roundtable. The roundtable discussion, “Innovating for Water’s Future”, was an all day event consisting of three sessions: Framing the Needs and Challenges to Innovation: The discussion focused on barriers to innovation from the point of view of water and wastewater equipment manufacturers, municipalities and public works officials. Participants of this sessions included Deb Lavelle, Chair, WWEMA; Rich Anderson, Senior Advisor, U.S. Conference of Mayors and Robert Steidel, Director of Public Utilities, City of Richmond (Virginia). Leveraging Existing and Exploring New Opportunities in innovation: The discussion focused on opportunities and solutions from the perspective of manufacturers, state and federal regulators. Participants included Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Water, U.S. EPA; Suzanne van Drunick and Sally Gutierrez, Office of Research and Development, U.S. EPA; Alex Dunn, Executive Director and General Counsel, Association of Clean Water Administrators and Jim Taft, Executive Director, Association of State Drinking Water Administrators. Facilitated Discussion: The final session focused on additional perspectives from all the participants of the roundtable and was facilitated by Brent Fewell, Senior Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety, United Water....