Black & Veatch Report Finds Water and Wastewater Utilities, Customers Challenged by COVID Economics
May 12, 2021 at 06:00 AM EDT
‘2021 50 Largest Cities Water and Wastewater Report’ shows modest progress in addressing service to economically disadvantaged communities
SOURCE: Black & VeatchDESCRIPTION:
OVERLAND PARK, Kan., May 12, 2021 /3BL Media/ – Although the COVID-19 pandemic shed new light on the importance of water and wastewater services, system resilience, funding and affordability remain challenges facing communities across the U.S., according to Black & Veatch’s new 2021 50 Largest Cities Water and Wastewater Rate Report. Released today, the engineering, construction and consulting leader’s new report highlights how the pandemic amplified several key issues facing the water industry including the disparities in funding across major U.S. metropolitan markets.
As the COVID-19 outbreak left millions of Americans out of work and unable to pay utility bills, rate conversations became a fixture in nearly every city council’s meeting agenda. Water and wastewater utilities began to develop customer assistance programs and educating consumers about them. However, current pricing and rate structures made it difficult to implement anything impactful.
“Until we can change the framework to fully support affordability programs and allow water and wastewater utilities to recover costs from other classes or provide alternative funding sources, our ability to provide water to all at affordable prices will be hampered,” said Ann Bui, managing director with Black & Veatch Management Consulting’s water regulatory practice.
The 2021 50 Largest Cities Water and Wastewater Rate Report goes beyond addressing just the socioeconomic impacts to uncover other top priorities for the industry. This includes addressing aging infrastructure, adhering to new regulatory and compliance requirements, and the increasing competition when sourcing funding through state and federal infrastructure investments, including the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.
“The water utility industry continues to be a dynamic market with ongoing and emerging needs for new services,” said Deepa Poduval, vice president and leader of Black & Veatch Management Consulting’s strategic advisory practice. “Our new survey confirms that we must address these critical water and wastewater utility needs, including effective asset management, financial resilience and rate stability, as well as meeting customer affordability and demands for enhanced service levels and access to information.”
Other key data points the survey presents include:
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