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America’s water infrastructure is failing. Let’s work together to fix it.

Posted on by NAWC Team

Most Americans take water for granted – they turn on their taps and expect safe, high-quality drinking water to come out. However, as we recognize World Water Day today, it’s worth taking a hard look at the fragile state of our country’s water infrastructure.

Many communities across the country are approaching a day of reckoning with regard to their water and wastewater systems. After decades of neglect and underinvestment, many systems require serious infrastructure upgrades and repair. And the reality is that the costs and complexities of these projects are often too large for local communities to tackle on their own.

The stats are indeed daunting. Our nation’s drinking water infrastructure received a “D” grade on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, while the nation’s wastewater infrastructure fared only slightly better, receiving a “D+” grade. Due to aging infrastructure, the U.S. loses 16 percent of treated water before it even reaches the customer. That’s more than 7 billion gallons of treated water lost each day.

While there are federal water and wastewater programs, there is no way that federal dollars alone will solve our infrastructure challenges. To put it in perspective, the 10 largest NAWC member water companies invest a combined $3 billion in their systems every year. This investment by water companies is equivalent to the combined total annual federal appropriation for our nation’s two major water infrastructure programs.

It’s clear that public capital is not a bottomless resource for communities needing to address infrastructure needs. Thankfully, it also isn’t the only solution. In fact, a variety of options are available to help communities across the U.S. regain compliance, expand capacity and address challenges with aging infrastructure, including contracting operations through a customizable partnership or transferring ownership of the utility assets to a regulated water company.

Everyone from the U.S. Conference of Mayors to the Brookings Institute to elected officials on both sides of the aisle and the Environmental Protect Agency agree that the public and private sectors should work together to address the water infrastructure and operational challenges facing America’s cities and towns.

Water companies bring tremendous benefits to the communities they serve, including extensive water system expertise. This expertise and a proven track-record of strategic investment have contributed to water companies’ exemplary water quality compliance record. The largest and most comprehensive independent analysis of water quality data ever conducted found that private ownership of a community water system resulted in higher Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) compliance rates over a 34-year period when compared to municipal systems.

By working together, we can strengthen America’s water infrastructure and ensure future generations of Americans have access to safe and reliable water. Water companies are committed to this effort every single day!

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