Fixing Strapped Utilities

How Cash-Strapped Utilities Can Finance Infrastructure

Is there an answer for the rising cost of improving the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure? Patricia Buckley, director for economic policy and analysis at Deloitte, addressed the question plaguing municipalities and water companies across the country in a recent podcast released by her firm. She noted that water main breaks in the U.S. cost about $2.6 billion dollars per year, which is multiplied many times over as a total cost to the economy since businesses and households have to pay for damages. Buckley delivered the bad news first: “There’s no simple solution.” Nevertheless, she offered a number of options that may be helpful. Innovation in pricing structures is one useful component, she said. “One of the solutions is going to lie in moving away from usage, which is how the majority of your billing comes to you, based on how much water you’re actually consuming, to more a fixed fee—because the fixed fees need to be [sufficient] to provide for the infrastructure,” she said.

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