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Water infrastructure investment depends on adaptive water management
Aging infrastructure, population growth, legislative and legal developments have all contributed to an ongoing need to consider dynamic water management strategies and solutions while concurrently facing economic challenges.
Financing shortfalls could partly hold back some $400 billion of investment needed over the next 10 years to replace and add to the country's aging water-related infrastructure, Water Details LLC, a water industry firm based in Houston finds in analysis published by the firm.
"It is clear that a major point of emphasis in the coming years among industry participants and the general public will be on financing schemes for this level of investment as well as ways to smartly implement infrastructure improvements," Water Details' analyst Arturo Reyes states.
"While we anticipate economic barriers to the development of infrastructure projects such as pushback from water users due to the prospect of rising water bills, the industry appears ready to find new strategies through collaboration and innovative resource management and project design, a necessity in regions with greater resource stress," Reyes adds.
Adding to the complexity are other factors such as regulatory and legal influences on the industry. Two recent examples can be found in Kansas and Texas.
Kansas' House Bill 2451 effectively eliminated the state's use it or lose it policy for groundwater rights in overly appropriated areas. Senate Bill 272 changed the state’s water appropriation law and allowed for an increase in the amount of groundwater that may be pumped with a multi-year flex account. Other legislation further allowed the state to more flexibly manage the Ogallala Aquifer.
In Texas, the Supreme Court recently decided in a case whether land ownership includes an interest in groundwater in place that cannot be taken for public use without adequate compensation. The court held that it does; a decision that will have ripple effects.
For areas stressed by population growth surges and others that have faced significant drought periods, managing water in a resource stressed environment continues to demand innovation on all fronts, including engineering, construction, resource planning, legal and legislative.