In England and Wales, the provision of water and wastewater services was moved from the public to the private sector in 1989. This change was part of a broader government strategy, which also encompassed the telecom and energy sectors, to privatise the ownership and management of public assets.
For 16 years prior to privatisation, water and wastewater services in England and Wales were the preserve of catchment-based public water authorities. During the 1980s, water authorities became increasingly affected by limits on public sector borrowing that were imposed to contain inflation. It was challenging to fund asset maintenance and improvement. In addition, the cost of meeting water quality and environmental directives set by the European Union (EU) grew.
The government’s solution to meet the funding gap was to change the water authorities into private companies. Because 99 percent of households were already connected to the water supply network and 96 percent also connected to the sewerage system (Water Companies Association, Waterfacts, 1992), opportunities for organic growth by the new “water companies” were limited.
As a result, investment was made more attractive by the formation of holding companies that were able to undertake other forms of commercial activity and own the new water companies. Public capital was injected into the holding companies, which were then successfully floated on the London Stock Exchange. England and Wales’ 10 private water and wastewater companies were formed. There are also a number of smaller water-only companies that have existed in private ownership for many years.
There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks every year in the United States, and those ruptures waste between 14 percent and 18 percent of the nation's drinking water. Aging infrastructure is primarily to blame, as an estimated 40 percent of U.S. water and wastewater pipes are beyond their life expectancy, notes a recent article in WaterWorld. The article goes on to say that half of forecasted capital expenditures by water providers will cover new installation and rehabilitation of underground infrastructure
When it comes to understanding how water utilities approach asset maintenance, survey data shows that, on average, they tend to weight their efforts more heavily toward preventive maintenance.
A structured path to a paradigm shift in stormwater management can be developed by integrating an alternative program planning and execution framework, and by enhancing financial resilience through effective funding mechanisms.
The Hong Kong Water Supplies Department is bringing more clean drinking water to its citizens in much safer ways. Ultimately, the department set out to double the Tai Po Water Treatment Works’ production. Achieving that goal was an amazing feat in itself, but the department saw beyond the infrastructure to boldly address the equally complex challenge of safe and sustainable treatment.
For more than 20 years, Black & Veatch worked with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utility Commission to upgrade its wastewater treatment system on a project-by-project basis. There were many short-term wins, but resilience dated master plan made the long-term a bit less clear. The real win, and biggest cost savings, required a different approach.
The city of Escondido, Calif., had converging challenges. It had too much wastewater and not enough potable water. The answer: water reuse.
Black & Veatch is the designer and builder of a new, $35 million solids treatment system for the Liverpool Wastewater Treatment Plant in Medina County, Ohio. The system provides energy performance savings and other sustainable benefits through an innovative Design-Build Performance Contract. As a result, the county expects to be able to pay for the new system without increasing customer rates.
The Ulu Pandan Wastewater Treatement Demonstration Center has a treatment capacity of 12,500m3/day, and serves to test advanced water treatment technologies before deploying them on a larger scale at Tuas Water Reclamation Plant in the future.