Aging infrastructure tops water utility concerns in U.S.


Overland Park, KS, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 19, 2013 – Aging water and sewer infrastructure continues to be the top concern for the water industry in the United States, followed by the management of capital and operational costs, according to Black & Veatch’s second annual industry survey.

However, surprisingly, non-revenue water, i.e. water loss – despite averaging over 20 percent across the nation – came in only 10th place, behind the ageing workforce and water availability and/or conservation.

The survey was based on input from almost 400 industry executives from across the U.S., and was aimed to capture the industry viewpoint on ongoing issues.

Other findings are that the top drivers for investment in infrastructure are regulatory compliance and safety and reliability, above cost containment and customer expectations, and that almost three-quarters of the respondents who provide water services are implementing drought contingency plans.

Reviewing the findings, the report comments that the focus on energy efficiency, aging infrastructure and managing costs has bred increased interest across the industry for the adoption of formal asset management programs. However, most of the industry is very much at the starting point and only now beginning to understand the full scope and potential benefits of such programs. If fully embraced, this could be the turning point for water and wastewater utilities in achieving a stronger financial position and more efficient operations.

On the increasingly important issue of information technology – up to 6th in the rankings from 9th last year – the report says that emerging technologies such as cloud computing, virtualization and hosted applications are providing access to additional tools, resources and services to the industry that improve operations and potentially reduce costs. However, security concerns may have a dampening effect on the adoption of some telecommunications and automation technologies.

Regarding the non-revenue water issue, the report describes its low ranking as perhaps the greatest surprise within the top 10 industry issues list. Further almost a fifth of the survey respondents said they did not know their current levels of non-revenue water. Improving system metering, data integrity, leak monitoring and control will improve system performance and reduce costs. Indeed, non-revenue water, particularly where system leaks are concerned, could be the root challenge to meeting operational, capital and water conservation challenges, according to the report.