Category Archives: Utilities

Water and sewer affordability in the United States

Source: Manuel P. Teodoro, AWWA Water Science, Vol. 1 no. 2, March/April 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The ability of low‐income families to pay for basic water and sewer services is a subject of increasing concern. Large‐scale assessments of affordability across large numbers of American utilities are rare, however, and are limited by poor measurement and biased samples. The present study uses improved metrics and data from an original, representative sample of water and sewer utilities in the United States to calculate the affordability of basic single‐family residential water and sewer service for low‐income households. Results indicate that low‐income households must spend an average of 9.7% of their disposable income and/or work 9.5 h at minimum wage to pay for basic monthly water and sewer service but also that these values vary considerably across the country. Community‐level demographic and economic data are used to identify some correlates of affordability. Region, utility size, and local income inequality emerge as strong correlates of affordability.

Organizational Dissolutions in the Public Sector: An Empirical Analysis of Municipal Utility Water Districts

Source: Tima T Moldogaziev, Tyler A Scott, Robert A Greer, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Advance Articles, February 17, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The proliferation of special-purpose districts and the increasing complexity of local governance systems has been well documented. However, even as new special districts are created, others are being dissolved. This article investigates the extent to which both internal and external factors are at play in municipal utility district dissolutions. Decades of existing empirical studies on private, nonprofit, and interest organizations show that factors internal to organizations, such as institutional structure and resources are significant covariates of organizational mortality. Equally important are external factors, where density dependence and resource partitioning pressures influence organizational survival. Public sector organizations, such as special-purpose water districts, operate in relatively well monitored and statutorily constrained environments, however. Drawing upon the organizational mortality literature, we examine when and why municipal utility water districts that operate in fragmented service delivery systems dissolve. The results show that the relationship between internal and external organizational variables and special-purpose organizational dissolutions is more nuanced than existing research suggests.

U.S. Public Power and Electric Cooperative Utilities 2019 Sector Outlook: Ratings Stability Persists In A Difficult Era

Source: S&P Global Ratings, January 22, 2019
(subscription required)

S&P Global Ratings believes the U.S. local government sector remains stable and resilient for now. Local governments benefited from positive economic trends in 2018 (such as higher GDP growth and low unemployment), but 2019 already show some signs of slowing…

U.S. Municipal Water And Sewer Utilities 2019 Sector Outlook: Stable, Although Potential Disruptions Are Not Making Planning Easy

Source: S&P Global Ratings, January 15, 2019
(subscription required)

As the calendar flipped to 2019, many market participants did not use the word “happy” to precede “new year.” January unfolded with a federal government shutdown, the uncertainty related to a new Congress, and a potential debt ceiling due date by August….

US Survey Reveals Gaps, Opportunities for Health, Safety, and Environment Programs

Source: Frank Milligan, Journal AWWA, Vol. 111 no. 1, January 2019

Overall findings related to health, safety, and environment programs and practices are encouraging, but there are opportunities for significant improvement.

In today’s litigious environment, where the consequences of employer safety decisions have never been greater, there is an ever‐increasing need for comprehensive, effective health and safety programs. These organizational initiatives have three primary goals: reducing potential risks and costs; improving workplace morale and performance; and minimizing work‐related injuries, illnesses, and stress. While the majority of US water utilities now have formal health, safety, and environment (HS&E) programs in place, these programs require continuous evaluation to ensure that their metrics and measures are consistent with current best practices….

Water And Sewer Utilities – US: 2019 Outlook Stable As Debt Service Coverage Strengthens But Capital Needs Rise

Source: Ryan Patton, Rachel Cortez, Naomi Richman, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s Investors Service, Outlook, December 5, 2018
(subscription required)

The stable outlook for the water and sewer utility sector incorporates revenue growth that will continue to strengthen debt service coverage and liquidity, and the ability to meet operating costs. ….