America’s water sector needs to reinvent itself if it is to reverse seven years of declining investment, according to Global Water Intelligence magazine. The latest (June 2014) US Census Bureau data shows that capital expenditure on water, sewer and waste systems has fallen from a peak of $42.4 billion in 2008 to $34.8 billion.
During this time, the need for investment in the US water sector has become significantly more urgent:
- There have been severe droughts in California and Texas, forcing agencies to rethink their diversity of supply.
- Inadequate wastewater infrastructure means that municipal sewer utilities have been responsible for more than 80% of all pollution incidents violating the NPDES permitting system.
- America’s water and sewer infrastructure has fallen to a D rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
- Underinvestment in water and wastewater is beginning to have an impact on GDP.
This last point will be the key focus of this year’s American Water Summit in Houston on October 23-24 2014. With the theme “Smashing Silos” the event will bring together leaders from the water industry, cities, finance, energy, and technology to address the crisis. It is the first time that an event at this level has brought together such leaders to find solutions to the problem. Among the questions under discussion are:
- How can we grow the economy and fix the water problem without overburdening rate payers?
- Will the drought in the South West bring have an impact on the unconventional energy boom?
- Can America’s pension funds step in to help close the infrastructure gap?
- Is there a technological solution to the pressures on our water systems?
- How is the smart money finding ways to profit from the crisis?
Global Water Intelligence publisher Christopher Gasson said: “The truth is that water availability is not the problem. The problem is that we manage it in a way which leads to wastage, misallocation and underinvestment. But many of these issues can be addressed if we only stepped away from the silo mentality that pervades our approach to water. One man’s crisis is another man’s opportunity, and when you get everyone together, I think you will see that it all adds up to something very positive for America."
Bookings at this years Summit are 40% ahead of where they stood at this time last year, so I think people are beginning to get that this year’s event is going to be a significant turning point in the discussion of America’s water future.
Keynote speakers include:
- Commissioner Christi Craddick, Texas Railroad Commission
- Carlos Rubinstein, Chairman, Texas Water Development Board
- The Honorable Parris Glendening, President, Smart Growth America and former Governor of Maryland
- Jud Hill, Managing Partner, Blue Star Capital
The American Water Summit takes place at The OMNI Galleria, Houston TX on October 23rd & 24th. Contact Jack Ceadel at jmc at globalwaterintel.com to request press passes.
Full details available at http://www.americanwatersummit.com.