NAWC Executive Director Michael Deane Pens LTE to The Progress-Index in Petersburg, Va
In a letter to the editor in The Progress-Index in Petersburg, Va, NAWC Executive Director Michael Deane responded to last week’s letter from Clean Water for North Carolina and called attention to the benefits of working with private water companies.
“Having read Clean Water for North Carolina’s letter to the editor, I am compelled to correct the rampant misinformation the group raised about working with a private water provider.
First of all, city council members are wise for considering alternative solutions when determining the best path forward not only for Petersburg’s water infrastructure needs, but also for the city’s financial solvency. Working with a professional water management company to make improvements to water systems is not a new idea. For over 200 years, water companies have served communities across the United States. Every day, our industry provides essential water and wastewater services to nearly 73 million Americans – almost one quarter of our nation’s population.
Petersburg is not alone in facing water infrastructure challenges. Communities all across the country are confronting urgent water system needs – and, like Petersburg, many of these communities must find a way to pay for these necessary investments.
There is widespread agreement that private capital is imperative to meeting local infrastructure needs. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Brookings Institute and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are among a large community that recognizes the significant benefits afforded by the public and private sector working together. In addition to accessing private capital for infrastructure repairs and upgrades, these benefits include a stronger record of compliance with federal water quality and environmental standards and the transfer of technological and operational risk from the local government to the regulated utility.
One of the favorite tactics of activist groups like Clean Water for North Carolina is making claims based on faulty rate comparisons that experts warn against, time and time again. These groups try to compare systems – usually a government-run utility to a regulated utility – to claim the latter is more expensive and can raise rates at will.
These claims simply don’t tell the full story. Here are the facts. First, under all models of private operation, water rates are set and approved by the municipality, a state public utility commission or another public authority. For regulated water utilities, the rate case process ensures that customers pay a reasonable and fair rate for water service.”
Read the rest of Michael Deane’s letter here.