While the quality of roads and bridges is often at the top of mind for citizens, other critical areas of infrastructure that often get overlooked for investment are drinking water and wastewater. And the need for investment in that infrastructure is crucial.
National Association of Water Companies President and CEO Rob Powelson sat down with The Bottom Line to discuss the improvements needed to ensure clean drinking water.
According to the American Society for Civil Engineers, Kentucky has some work to do regarding water system investment– $15 billion over 20 years for both drinking water and wastewater. The same group has given America’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure a D grade.
Powelson emphasized that water is the only utility service that all Americans ingest but many people do not often think about the need for quality water systems and that need continues to grow.
As for how these issues are fixed and where the funding comes from, Powelson said the money just isn’t there anymore from the federal and state level to make needed investments and instead much of the industry is looking toward private capital.
Many chronic failures including led exposure, pipeline failures, and other issues are being seen with water systems across the country. And Powelson added the sheer number of systems across the country, with 52,000 drinking water systems and 15,000 wastewater systems, does not help the issue.
Earlier this year, Kentucky’s legislature took up a bill in support of voluntary consolidation of water systems that would have allowed interested buyers and sellers to negotiate a purchase price based on the fair market value of the system. The Ky. Public Service Commission, which oversees the sale, could consider the fair market value of the system. Several neighboring states have enacted such legislation, but the bill did not pass in Kentucky.
Powelson stated the issue of the need for investment in water systems is bipartisan and added it is important for discussions to continue on ways to address the challenges being faced by these systems in order to ensure good, quality water for all Americans.
Watch the full interview with National Association of Water Companies President and CEO Rob Powelson to hear more about needed investments, how crisis situations like Flint, Michigan can be avoided, potential legislative fixes for these issues, and more here: