Article | December 2, 2013

WWEMA Window: The Past, Present, And Future Of Water

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By Tom Seymour, VP of Sales & Marketing, Gorman-Rupp

As I am writing this article, I find it hard to believe that another year has zipped by and evaluations of all our prognostications from the previous year are now subject to review and scrutiny.  2013 has been an interesting year in the water and wastewater market!

When we began 2013, we all had high hopes that a shift in trends would continue during the year.  We hoped the federal government would recognize, finally, the urgent need to fund the rebuilding of our infrastructure.  We hoped the economy would get a grip and return us to prosperous times when municipalities could adequately fund the needed technology and system improvements.  We hoped that signs would be present by year’s end that a paradigm shift was finally taking hold in water and wastewater funding.  Your friends at the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA) have spent countless hours pursuing the effort to change the present paradigm and although we have made some success, we still have a long way to go.

It has been interesting to watch the shift in priorities with the municipalities and manufacturers as they react to the ever-present dichotomy of market needs versus industry growth and rehabilitation.  Adoption of new ideas and methods with respect to delivering water and processing wastewater have given way to tried and true approaches that simply “keep the wheels on the bus.” The unfortunate result of this approach is that the wheels on the bus are now bald and are in serious need of a fresh look to keep pace with the growing requirements of this industry.

Let’s look at the growth of the water industry for a moment.  In 1990, the water and sewer rate in New York City cost approximately $2.01 for 100 cubic feet (748 gallons).  Assuming the average family uses 300 gallons of water per day, they would spend about $24/month for their water and sewer.  In 2013, that same amount of water and sewer service amounts to approximately $106 per month.  In a 23-year timespan, water and sewer have risen 341 percent, or approximately 14.8 percent per year.  Although this sounds excessive, consider the rising costs of operation and the deteriorating infrastructure and one quickly finds the present revenue stream woefully inadequate to support infrastructure repairs and new plant production.  On a positive note, the costs consumers are now experiencing have had a corresponding impact on the overall water usage.  In 1990, the per capita use of water amounted to 194 gallons per day.  In 2010, water use has decreased to 127 gallons per day.  It appears the message of conservation and awareness is getting through.

At WWEMA, we are focused on the water and wastewater markets on two fronts.  The first is a collective voice illustrating the need for increased funding from all sources.  The second is to continue to create awareness of the growing need to focus on conservation and technology adoption to adequately manage the single most important resource we have… water!