Seven Big Ideas for Fixing Water in the U.S.

As a member of the U.S. Water Alliance, American Water is committed to supporting the mission of building a sustainable water future for all. U.S. Water Alliance conducted a series of “One for America Listening Sessions” that took place across the country.

These listening sessions brought together more than 500 leaders including water utility managers, public officials, business executives, farmers, environmental and watershed advocates, community organizations, planners and philanthropic organizations to answer the question: How do we create a new era of water management in America—one that secures economic, environmental, and community well-being? Based on these engagements, the seven solutions or Big Ideas were devised to address the long- and short-term water needs of the country.

Big Idea 4 is to blend public and private expertise and investment to address water infrastructure needs. This is so critical because the needs are too big for one sector alone. A more in-depth discussion on this area will also be taking place February 21st via webinar. The webinar will highlight case studies that explore what brought the public and private parties together initially, what types of options the public entity had to choose from, what arrangement the two settled on, and the outcomes of the arrangement.

Each story is different. This is the case across our country, where there are many reasons why a water or wastewater system is challenged. That is why giving communities many options to address their challenges is so important. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer. The good news is that public/private, or even public/public collaboration can come in many forms from design and build, to finance, to operate, to acquisition.

It’s clear from the Listening Sessions that a national discussion is needed on how to best blend public and private expertise to achieve positive outcomes for the country as a whole. Private water companies can bring unique benefits to the table and have the connections, resources and capital required to “fix” the U.S. water system. But to truly succeed we need all hands on deck – true solutions can only be formed by the collective effort of all stakeholders. We look forward to continuing that conversation.