Across the U.S., a growing number of rural water and wastewater systems are taking advantage of technological innovations to increase efficiencies, save money, reduce water waste and comply with environmental regulations.
Some analysts have estimated that 50 percent of the rural water industry’s workforce will retire in the next few years. In its 2016 State of the Water Industry report, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) listed “aging workforce/anticipated retirements” as No. 13 of 28 top challenges.
The nation’s rural water systems are striving to improve their public image and address their pressing business challenges as they work to survive and thrive over the next few decades.
Colorado’s overall existing water rights – from the most senior, to the most junior – exceed the available supply of water during many years and in most regions across the state. Growing demands from competing water users – reflecting population growth, energy development, and recreational and environmental needs – threaten to reduce irrigated farming and ranching in coming decades.
The Ogallala Aquifer underlies parts of eight states within the High Plains region, from South Dakota to Texas, and is a major source for agricultural, industrial and municipal water needs. Withdrawals from the Ogallala for agricultural irrigation far exceed natural replenishment in some farming and ranching regions.
The Ogallala aquifer has been tapped faster than nature can replenish it. Overall, it has lost an estimated 8 percent of its water, albeit with wide variations. Wells in parts of Texas, for example, have dropped as much as 242 feet while some wells in Nebraska have seen 85-foot increases.
Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc., a well-known, highly regarded consultancy serving the water utilities industry, prepared the attached primer. It reviews the key metrics and financial considerations that credit analysts generally use to evaluate the creditworthiness of municipal water and wastewater utilities.