I’m linking here to an article in WaterWorld which reproduced my speech to the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association, Inc. (WWEMA) which I delivered on November 15 in Ponte Vedra, Florida.
It is entitled, “Do You Want the Good News or the Bad News First? The State of the Water Utility Sector and the Business of Water.” I maintain that water and wastewater utility managers need to move toward a service, rather than commodity, model of pricing and rate-setting, and intensely communicate to their customers the value and importance of these capital-intensive, highly engineered, and complex operations so as to generate support for robust rate structures. It is all about getting the prices right.
I also discuss the current fiscal situation facing the federal government and why it is unlikely to extend any significant financial support to water infrastructure absent reform of entitlement spending. Hence the importance of communicating the true value of the services of water and wastewater capture, treatment, delivery, and reuse.
And why should conservative conservationist-or free market environmentalists for that matter-care? Well, the maintenanceof our water infrastructure to protect human health and the environment is the fundamental basis of our water protection effort. Financing this massive infrastructure is essential.
In addition, conservatives should realize that the federal budget and fiscal situation is critical and cannot tolerate new spending initiatives. Thus, the nation must draw on its reserves of federalism and subsidiarity and look to local governments, utilities (i.e., ratepayers), and states to embrace their primary responsibilities. Recall that the Erie Canal was a state, not a federal project.