Earlier this month I joined my colleague Harlan Kelly, GM of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (water, sewer and power) and Tony Parrott, Executive Director of the Metropolitan District of Greater Cincinnati to launch a national effort to convene the chief executives of water utilities to focus on one principal issue: the economic and community benefits that spring from our work, to parallel the obvious attention that is given to the costs.
In every jurisdiction, water and sewer rates – however configured – are rising as old infrastructure is updated and new regulatory mandates and technological opportunities are implemented. We felt that attention has to be focused not just on rising costs, but on the opportunities we provide for good jobs, improved neighborhoods, and new businesses. From initial meetings in early 2014, we completed a study – founded on a survey of 30 municipal authorities – of our economic and community characteristics. Here in Washington in mid-September, the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) and the Water Research Foundation (WRF) released a report that highlights the economic activity driven by these 30 utilities. The report found that:
Thirty of the largest water and wastewater agencies will invest more than $230 billion over next decade; and these agencies support 289,000 permanent good-paying jobs, annually, strengthening America’s middle class; and DC Water will contribute $13.1 billion in economic activity over ten years; and The Authority will provide 7, 090 jobs over the next years.
I also take pride in the fact that the group chose to adopt the name DC Water uses for its own jobs program – DC Water Works – by calling the national effort “Water Works!” The entire report can be found on the Water Works! website, and a DC Water-specific fact sheet is available online here. We will continue to emphasize the importance our organizations play in the communities we serve.