We must have water

Photo by Ryan Poplin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo by Ryan Poplin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The San Antonio Zoo needs 2 million gallons of water a day for its animals. Schools in the Tampa Bay area of Florida use 22,284 gallons of water each day. The average American uses 176 gallons of water per day. That’s a lot of water.

The United Nations predicts that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will suffer water shortages. That’s a frightening statistic because water and energy are basic components of human existence. The data becomes even more sobering with the realization that 90 percent of power generation is water-intensive.

So, what is happening to resolve the country’s water needs? Not enough! Public funding is woefully inadequate. Municipalities and water districts are behind on maintenance, repair, expansion and replacement of water and wastewater systems. Systems built in the 20th century are old and problematic. Most are struggling to meet community needs. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) says a water main breaks in this country every two minutes and the U.S. Conference of Mayors says $4.8 trillion will be needed over the next 20 years just to maintain the nation’s aging water infrastructure.

Last week, Infrastructure Week was celebrated throughout the United States. Events were held nationwide and mayors, water experts, legislators and others urged Congress to put in place a long-term, sustainable water infrastructure plan. Hundreds of meetings were held with congressional leaders to discuss the need to invest in water infrastructure. In spite of their efforts, most public officials are not hopeful and many believe the only alternative is to find private investors interested in water projects.

In Texas, at least one city is looking at an unusual solution. With its wastewater treatment plant already at more than 75 percent capacity, the city of Willow Park is exploring the possibility of having another city – Weatherford – process its wastewater. City officials say that is the least expensive option.

The city of Philadelphia has announced plans to capture rain and melted snow and filter the polluted runoff water before it heads into sewers. The water will then be recycled and reused.

In California, a private-sector investor is a partner in the Carlsbad Desalination Project, which may be the Western Hemisphere’s largest and most energy-efficient seawater desalination project. The $1 billion investment is expected to produce more than 50 million gallons of drinking water per day while ensuring a drought-proof water supply long into the future.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago is partnering with an investor-owned water utility in the state to reclaim wastewater and distribute it to large water users. This project is the result of a public-private partnership that requires the water utility to build the distribution infrastructure, develop the customer base, buy the water from MWRD and resell it.

As water-related problems become more critical, there will obviously be more partnerships. Population growth is expected to continue and water plants will continue to age. This problem cannot go away, so visionary municipal leaders become more interested each day in private-sector partners. To find out about the latest water procurement opportunities, contact the Strategic Partnerships, Inc. team.