Long Term Water Management in The Southeastern US

Hi Everyone,
In this blog I use a brilliant note my good friend Bill Stolz just sent me.  He gives a compelling description of where we can go to support or water needs in the future and the possible positive economic impacts it may entail right here in the Southeastern US.  Thanks Bill for sharing this and for your efforts!
On March 1, 2013 he wrote:
The six-state territory of GA, NC, SC, TN, AL, MS has 38.5 million residents (almost 13% of the entire USA) spread among 62 metro areas (MSAs) plus smaller population centers and rural areas representing dozens of first, second and third tier markets.  Florida has 19 million and Puerto Rico + the USVI 4 million. A population-based extrapolation using the USA’s national water infrastructure investment needs during the next 25 years of over $1 trillion just to maintain our water and wastewater infrastructure at current levels of service (see AWWA’s attached report Buried No Longer”), indicates that our regional spend will be $40 billion per year and Florida’s $20 billion.  And these are conservative estimates.  

Many of these investments and expenditures are or will be mandated by EPA consent decrees or will be critical,must-execute-now types of projects requiring action no matter what political and economic climate winds may be blowing.  This will be an arduous, painful process due in part to wrongheaded politicians and other “leaders” who want everything but are often unwilling to pay their way for anything.  But it will have to happen if we as a country expect to continue to be a global leader.  Water is fundamental to our very existence in a way that most of our 310 million inhabitants take for granted and do not understand in the least.  This is o.c. true for all other nations too, but they are not the concern being voiced here.

Global infrastructure giants (MNEs) such as Siemens, GE Water, Bosch, Veolia, Suez and many others are active in the SE USA for these very reasons; clearly they “get it.” Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst (www.thebigthirst.com), stated in his talk here in Atlanta last fall that 49% of the energy that we generate and pump out over our national grid is used in one form or another to tap into, treat, deliver, retrieve, retreat and then dispose of water. This is an eye popper.  We also use enormous amounts of treated water to run our steam turbines to generate said power.  As a nation we cannot continue to be so blatantly wasteful of these two security critical resources – water and energy.

MNEs depend on hundreds of specialized smaller firms to be able to deliver their projects as promised, on time and on budget. This clearly bodes well for proven, long established products and technologies.  At the same time it opens the door to introducing and adopting new approaches to water usage efficiency such as rain water harvesting, grey water reuse and utilization, and energy generation from wastewater, to mention a few.  These will save enormous amounts of water and energy which will in turn result in better bottom lines for users and for the environment writ large.  Worth noting is that P3 (public-private-partnerships) project delivery models (e.g., DB, DBF, DBFM) can play leading roles in infrastructure development and execution if our states adopt the legislation necessary to move forward.  Texas, for instance, has already done this and is reaping the benefits.

Water industry professionals will obviously concentrate their work on projects that are either currently on the boards or will be in the near future in order to tap into the most viable opportunities promising the best returns in terms of both profitability and time frames for completion.  Supporting the efforts of entities such as EcoVie Environmental and the Southeast Rainwater Harvesting Systems Association (www.serhsa.com) should help new players get to the next level and ultimately move into the mainstream (pun not intended).  The question we all ask ourselves is, “What is the tipping point and how & when will we get there.”






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