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USA Country Market
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Water & Wastewater Treatment Market


Overview: In 2009, among the main issues facing water users and the water industry are: water scarcity and adaptation to climate change; concerns about combined sewer overflows and drinking water quality; and concerns about a gap between investment needs and actual investments. Other issues are affordability of water bills for the poor during a recession, and water fluoridation, which is opposed by some mainly on ethical and safety grounds.

Drought as a result of climate change is likely to reduce river flows in the southwestern US, potentially affecting the drinking water supply of large cities that depend on rivers such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles. With water use in the US increasing every year, many regions are starting to feel the pressure. At least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions.
 
In addition to rising water demands and hotter summers, more evaporation from reservoirs and irrigated farmland will lead to faster depletion of water supplies and increased drought. Scientific evidence suggests that rising temperatures in the southwestern US will reduce river flows and contribute to an increased severity, frequency, and duration of droughts. Many utilities depend on winter snow pack to store water and then gradually release it through snowmelt during spring and summer. Warmer temperatures will accelerate snowmelt, causing the bulk of the runoff to occur earlier and potentially increasing water storage needs in these areas.

In 2007 there were about 52,000 community public water systems in the US, which were either publicly owned, cooperatives or privately owned, serving a total of about 300 million people in 2008.

Utilities in charge of public water supply and sanitation systems can be owned, financed, operated and maintained by a public entity, a private company or both can share responsibilities through a public-private partnership. Utilities can either be in charge of water supply and/or sanitation, or they can also be in charge of providing other services, in particular electricity and gas. In the latter case they are called multi-utilities. Bulk water suppliers are entities that manage large aqueducts and sell either treated or untreated water to various users, including utilities.

Water supply and wastewater systems are regulated by state governments and the federal government. At the state level, health and environmental regulation is entrusted to the corresponding state-level departments. Public Utilities Commissions or Public Service Commissions regulate tariffs charged by private utilities and, in some states, they also regulate tariffs by public utilities. At the federal level, drinking water quality and wastewater discharges are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which also provides funding to utilities through State Revolving Funds.
 
The economic regulation of water and sanitation service providers in the US (in particular in relation to the setting of user water rates) is usually the responsibility of regulators such as Public Utility Commissions at the state level, which are organized in the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. However, while all investor-owned utilities are subject to tariff regulation, only a few public utilities are subjected to the same regulation. In fact, only 12 states have laws restricting pricing practices by public water and sanitation utilities.

In 2009, public water supply used 163 million m³ per day serving 300 million people, corresponding to 21 per cent of total water use in the same year. Residential (home) water use water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions.
 
In addition to rising water demands and hotter summers, more evaporation from reservoirs and irrigated farmland will lead to faster depletion of water supplies and increased drought. Scientific evidence suggests that rising temperatures in the southwestern US will reduce river flows and contribute to an increased severity, frequency, and duration of droughts. Many utilities depend on winter snow pack to store water and then gradually release it through snowmelt during spring and summer. Warmer temperatures will accelerate snowmelt, causing the bulk of the runoff to occur earlier and potentially increasing water storage needs in these areas.

Opportunities: There are numerous opportunities in these sectors including: Desalination (technologies and services); Corporate governance; Demand management and public outreach services (consulting); Climate change studies; Water efficiency solutions; Grey water systems; Sewage systems; Septic rehabilitation and alternatives; Storm water control; and Consulting services to develop water conservation.
 




  2012 3rd International Conference on Environmental Science and Development (ICESD 2012)