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Water Industry Outlook Reveals Major Challenges

Rusty pipeAging infrastructure and capital needs are the most significant challenges facing the water industry, according to WeiserMazars’ 2014 US Water Industry Outlook.

According to the report, 95 percent of study respondents ranked aging facilities and infrastructure as one of the most significant challenges facing the industry, followed by the aging of management and plant workers.

The 2014 survey addressed topics not covered in previous years, such as pricing, non-revenue water, service quality and opportunities. Participants included a cross-section of the industry, with 67 percent coming from private companies and 18 percent from public companies. In regard to company position, 86 percent were in company management, with 75 percent in executive positions and 11 percent in middle management.

One new aspect of the 2014 Outlook was an analysis of developing trends in the water industry, which covered essential factors in obtaining new and/or renewed contracts, annual revenue, operating costs, access to financing for critical upgrades, and the current process of obtaining approvals for change in regulated rules.

Jerome Devillers, head of water infrastructure/project financing, said that seeing the same challenges in both the 2012 and 2014 reports was a wake-up call that the water industry remains at risk.

The WeiserMazars report echoes a 2013 survey from the EPA, Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment, which identified that significant investments were needed over the next 20 years for thousands of miles of pipes and thousands of water treatment plants, storage tanks and water distribution systems.

The 2013 EPA survey showed that improvements were primarily needed in distribution and transmission, treatment, storage, and source storage reservoirs at a projected cost of $384 billion. The EPA is required under the Safe Drinking Water Act to submit the survey to Congress every four years, and it is developed in consultation with all 50 states and the Navajo Nation.

Photo Credit: Rusty pipes via Shutterstock

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