As the voice of the private water industry — the organization exclusively representing this group of quality water service providers, innovation drivers, creative financiers and responsible partners — we speak for all of our members when we engage with others about the challenges facing our industry, our nation, the environment and our world.
Every day, our members work within the parameters of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act to help ensure quality water and/or wastewater service. They are committed to meeting contracts and deadlines, and to exceeding the expectations of the people and businesses they serve.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should primarily focus on encouraging and providing incentives for water managers to achieve compliance through the many managerial, technical and financial tools available. We acknowledge and emphatically agree that a transparent and consistent enforcement program is a critical element of our nation's efforts to ensure clean, safe, secure and reliable drinking water and wastewater service for everyone. To view our Statement on Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance, please click here.
A recent report by the Aspen Institute recommends that "funding for water utilities should generally rely on cost-based rates and charges, and water revenues should not be diverted to unrelated purposes," a position we support. Our members offer water at an exceptional value, and that helps sustain infrastructure investment and encourages conservation by household and commercial water users. To view the complete Aspen Report, please click here.
Our members can work across political boundaries to create smart and sustainable approaches to watershed management. Consolidation is an important collaborative tool, especially for rural communities. In fact, state officials in various capacities frequently call on our members to manage or operate and provide a sustainable solution for an otherwise unsustainable water provider unable to meet health or environmental standards or its debt obligation. To read the EPA's Small Systems document, please click here.
Sound Asset Management
The U.S. General Accountability Office estimates that as many as 25 percent of all water providers do not have asset management plans. Of the water providers that do have plans, it is estimated that more than half are inadequate.
Viable management of assets and sound business practices can go a long way toward avoiding costly infrastructure replacements that can interrupt the reliable water service essential to public health and the productivity of local businesses. All water providers should be encouraged to adopt such practices.
Over 30 infrastructure funds are ready to invest in the U.S. infrastructure market. That represents a leveraged purchasing power of $475 billion. View the Benefits of Private Capital Study here.
Our members use private capital to provide public service in various financial arrangements. This sustainable source of revenue allows them to continually invest in water quality and environmental and public health even during economic downturns. The benefits of this investment can have a positive impact throughout communities. Get the facts here.
Our members currently operate over 2,000 public-private partnerships. These are contractual agreements in which the skills, assets, and resources of the public and private sectors are shared to deliver water service or maintain a water facility for the use of the general public. To read a Mayor's Guide to Public-Private Partnerships issued by the US Conference of Mayors, click here.
Public-private partnerships can reduce costs and municipal debt burdens, and create opportunities for innovative solutions. Most importantly, public-private partnerships encourage local control and are best managed by a strong local leader. View more information here and here.
Global Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation
While considerable progress is being made towards alleviating water and sanitation problems in the developing world, more than 884 million people throughout the world still lack access to safe drinking water; and two of every five people in the world do not have access to basic sanitation services.
For more than a decade, we have supported Water For People and their mission of helping people in developing countries improve their quality of life by supporting the development of locally sustainable drinking water resources, sanitation facilities and health and hygiene education programs.
Our members also provide financial assistance and other help to low-income customers across the country struggling to pay for basic services. These programs go by many different names, including H2O Help to Others Program™ and Helping Hand.
Contaminant Regulation Process
The top priority of all private water service providers, NAWC members and water utility professionals is protecting public health and meeting environmental standards. Our members work hard to continually to meet all new and existing health and environmental regulations.
The Safe Drinking Water Act mandates a rigorous scientific process for evaluating risks to public health and determining what risk management actions are appropriate. This scientific process is important to ensure that the EPA directs water providers to address actual risks and does not misdirect resources based on incomplete or faulty information. No regulatory decision should fall short of the Safe Drinking Water Act's risk evaluation process.
We have always supported regulations that work to ensure safe water, are developed through a transparent process, are based on the best available science, and provide meaningful public health protection.
Advanced technology has allowed scientists to detect more compounds and substances at far lower levels than ever before. We are now able to detect substances in water at levels down to a few parts per trillion. For comparison, the safe levels established by most drinking water regulations are 1,000 times higher, in the parts per billion range. The EPA, in coordination with water service providers, must help consumers to understand the health risks (or lack thereof) of trace contaminants.
Awareness of the challenges facing utilities can only lead to safer water and better regulation. Our members actively work with federal and state officials to address these issues and continue to comply with all health and environmental regulations. In many cases, our members are tapped by government entities to help bring previously non-compliant systems into compliance. View more information here.
Climate Change and Water Scarcity
Stewards of our nation's water resources are presented with unique challenges as a result of a changing climate. Water management and climate change are inextricably related. Climate change will affect precipitation levels resulting in droughts, floods, varying stream flow patterns and rising sea levels. The private water industry is creating innovative solutions and applying its expertise and unparalleled resources to address the challenges presented by climate change and water scarcity. To read about Veolia Water's new Water Impact Index click here and to view more information, go here.
Water and Energy Efficiency
The relationship between water and energy is a close one. With a weight of more than eight pounds per gallon, water requires a tremendous amount of energy to move from a source such as a river or deep well, through the treatment process, and out into a distribution system that can stretch hundreds of miles. Water can also be used to generate electricity.
As good corporate citizens and environmental stewards, our members are committed to the responsible use of natural resources and employing renewable energy sources and conservation strategies whenever possible. We believe that water service companies also have a responsibility to their customers to keep utility rates at an affordable level. View more information here.
Our members have long been proactive in addressing security and response issues at the local and state levels because they understand the importance of safe and clean water. A significant factor in considering these issues is the utilities' methods of disinfecting water. Our members are steadfast in safeguarding their water and wastewater treatment processes and are committed to helping ensure the safety and security of the communities they serve. View more information here.