United Water Calls For Action To Improve America’s Water Systems On World Water Day

United Water, a leading provider of water and wastewater management services and the US subsidiary of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, one of the world’s largest water and resource management companies, today embraced the United Nation’s World Water Day, which marks 2013 as being the year of International Water Cooperation, and issued a call for government leaders here to address head-on the growing challenge of maintaining water systems in the U.S.

World Water Day is held each year on March 22 to highlight the importance of fresh water and the need to sustainably manage this resource essential for life. United Water fully supports World Water Day’s goals as it works in cooperation with communities across the U.S. to protect and maintain the quality of water reaching homes and keep the water in our rivers, lakes and oceans clean.

The urgent need to address America’s water challenge was underlined by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), whose latest report card on US infrastructure, issued March 19, graded the nation’s water systems a “D,” meaning there is a “strong risk of failure.” Funding is at the root of the problem – and offers the solution. The report card says that where investment is made, grades improve.

“Having access to clean, safe water and the need to care for the environment matters to everyone, no matter where they live. The daily challenges associated with that are no less critical in the US than elsewhere,” said Bertrand Camus, CEO of United Water. “The ‘D’ grade underlined what we know from our own experience, that decades of deferred investment can no longer be deferred. Public health and the economy will ultimately be put at risk. Municipal leaders responsible for our water and wastewater systems need creative alternatives to address the problem. It needs both public and private sector solutions.”

United Water is demonstrating its support for cities in several ways. United Water, in partnership with investment bank KKR and the City of Bayonne, NJ, recently initiated its new SOLUTION SM model to address the city’s water infrastructure needs. United Water is cooperating with financers and municipalities to bring the SOLUTION SM model to other cities. SOLUTION SM has the additional benefit of helping cities improve their credit rating.

Bayonne Mayor Mark A. Smith credited SOLUTION SM as a major reason for the first upgrade in five years of the city’s bond rating. Moody’s Investors Service, in March, upgraded Bayonne from Baa1 with negative outlook to Baa1 with stable outlook. This change makes it cheaper to for the city to make investments that help its economy grow.

One million miles of water mains crisscross the United States – some of them laid before the Civil War. Another 800,000 miles of sewer pipes date largely from post-World War II. Much is beyond the end of its useful life. The ASCE report says every month communities face 20,000 main breaks. Every year, 900 billion gallons of raw sewage (or how much water flows over Niagara Falls in two weeks) spill from overwhelmed systems into our rivers and oceans.

Bringing water mains up to standard, alone, will cost $1 trillion over the next 25 years. Federal support for water infrastructure, which began 40 years ago with the Clean Water Act, is now a trickle. The Congressional Budget Office says more than $300 billion needs to be invested in sewage collection and treatment over the next 20 years to keep our waterways safe and clean. The ASCE report notes this is twice the current levels of investment by all arms of government – federal and local. Declining Congressional appropriations have averaged just $2.1 billion annually over the past five years. The ASCE said failure to act will put 1.4 million jobs at risk by 2040 and undo decades of improvement to public health standards.

About United Water

United Water is one of the nation’s leading environmental companies, providing water and wastewater services to approximately 5.5 million people in the United States. In addition to owning and operating 18 water utilities, United Water operates 90 municipal and industrial water and wastewater systems through innovative public-private partnerships and contract agreements. Founded in 1869, United Water is a subsidiary of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT.

About SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT

Natural resources are not infinite. Each day, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT (Paris: SEV, Brussels: SEVB) and its subsidiaries deal with the challenge of protecting resources by providing innovative solutions to industries and to millions of people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT supplies drinking water to 97 million people, provides wastewater treatment services for 66 million people and collects the waste produced by close to 50 million people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT has 79,550 employees and, with its presence on a global scale, is a world leader exclusively dedicated to environmental services. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, reported sales turnover of 14.8 billion Euros ($18.8 billion USD) at the end of financial year 2012.

Copyright Business Wire 2010