Climate change, declining consumption and increasing operational costs are all a part of the reality today’s water and wastewater utilities are facing. So how are the largest U.S. cities managing these factors and building rate structures for long-term resilience?
According to respondents in the 2018-2019 50 Largest Cities Water & Wastewater Rate Survey, utilities are modifying how they charge for services to address revenue stability and affordability concerns. Following extreme weather events in 2018 such as hurricanes Florence and Michael, the need is now more urgent for rate-making mechanisms that enable financial, operational and organizational resilience.
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.