Water industry survey reveals challenges in U.S. infrastructure

WeiserMazars, an accounting, tax and advisory services firm, recently released the results of its first annual U.S. Water Industry Outlook survey. The 2012 survey is devoted exclusively to the water industry. Survey participants include public and private system operators and builders. 

“Participants largely agree that the industry is facing major challenges with respect to aging infrastructure and regulatory pressures,” says Jerome Devillers, head of water infrastructure/project financing for WeiserMazars. 

The survey confirms other reports that the U.S. water infrastructure is critically aging. Forty-five percent of respondents categorized their facilities as old to very old, and none indicated that their infrastructure was new.  

“The survey is the first focusing on the water industry and not the larger sector of public utilities,” says Devillers. “It addresses finance, operations and the future of the industry. We believe the water industry needs specific research, publications and active leadership to overcome its challenges and stop being overshadowed by the larger energy utilities.” 

The survey results provide plant operators and utility managers a standard from which to measure their own infrastructure. “Treatment plant operators can compare their own operations to the benchmark of respondents’ operations and use the input on industry trends as a basis for strategic planning,” says Devillers. “Municipalities can also gain a lot from the survey, including insights into the concerns of private sector operators, which can be useful for municipalities working on balancing budgets and considering outright privatization or public-private partnership.” 

Respondents predicted that capital spending for water delivery and wastewater treatment infrastructure will continue to increase until 2040, but the needs versus capital spending gap is expected to grow at a faster rate. 

The 2013 survey is already in the works. “For the 2013 version we are contemplating the potential to provide comparative results for public and private sector operators,” says Devillers. “With respect to the future of the industry, the consensus is around significant consolidation activities in the next few years.” 

To view the complete survey, click www.weisermazars.com/images/WM%20WaterSurvey%202012.pdf.


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